Hide your jelly beans! Two guys from the Bronx were thrown in jail for nearly a week because crazy coppers mistook their candy for a bag of crack cocaine.
The trouble began the night of Jan. 15, as José Pena, a 48-year-old plumber, and his longtime pal and colleague Cesar Rodriguez, 33, were headed to a party, and decided to stop at a bodega on 181st Street and the Grand Concourse.
When they came out, cops were waiting and asked to search their Ford minivan. “I said ‘Go search.’ I even opened the door,” Rodriguez told The Post.
An officer rummaged around, came out holding a “Hello Kitty” sandwich bag, and shouted “Bingo!” the men said.
“It’s only candy!” Rodriguez said, as the cops handcuffed him and Pena, and several other police cars rushed to the scene.
Rodriguez said he buys a 50-cent bag of Coco Candy, a hard coconut-based treat, almost every day. Because it easily crumbles, he puts it in a sandwich bag.
“Can you test it? Can you taste it?” Rodriguez asked the cops. “Shut up!” they replied.
“I didn’t know having candy was a crime,” he said.
The men’s lawyer, Neal Wallerstein, said the cops could have realized their mistake quickly.
“That’s the reason why they have a field-test kit,” he said, referring to the NYPD’s portable drug identification equipment.
But Wallerstein said cops just needed their noses.
“It smells like sugar,” he said.
Instead, the two men were jailed for crack possession. Pena got out after three days, but Rodriguez was held two more, until Thursday morning. [New York Post]
I keep reading stories where police act (like idiots) first, and ask questions later – or not at all.
Take for a second example this case of undercover police officers in Vancouver who, while responding to a domestic disturbance call, mercilessly beat the man who answered the door before asking him any questions. Turns out it was the wrong address – but even if it was the right one, should cops really be smashing-in peoples’ skulls without at least investigating things a little?
Speaking of skull-smashing cops, here’s some from New York going crazy at a botched drug sting, punching a handcuffed man in the head and smashing his face into the pavement:
The man was was initially charged with “obstructing governmental administration and resisting arrest”, but police have since dropped the charges. He and his friend plan to sue.
And here is yet another police beating where Pittsburgh cops stomped and tased a 18-year-old honor student within an inch of his life because they saw a “heavy object” in his coat which later turned out to be a Mountain Dew bottle.
This will keep happening over and over again until there are fundamental changes in how police are trained. Police officers must see citizens as fellow human beings, the ones to protect, not the enemy.