A Georgia woman is suing the police for making it look like she had cocaine and falsely arresting her on the national TV show COPS.
“Her life has simply been destroyed,” said attorney John Burdges, the attorney for Elizabeth Butler, who claims that an officer of the Gwinnett County Police Department framed her by conjuring cocaine for the cameras, destroying her reputation in the process.
In 2013, Butler appeared on an episode of COPS where Gwinnett County police Officer Paul Tremblay made comments about Butler’s marijuana leaf tattoo and of a Grateful Dead icon on her foot.
“That is consistent for some drug users,” Tremblay said on camera during a narcotics test. “That would be cocaine. That’s positive for cocaine,” Tremblay said on camera, publicly accusing Butler of cocaine use.
But she had tested negative, her attorney said.
“This was the result of first test. It was pink. There is no drugs in this test,” Butler’s attorney John Burdges told WSB-TV Atlanta.
Burdges added that there is additional video that shows Officer Tremblay going to the trunk of his squad car to get a second test kit – which is where the false positive would have been created.
“We submit that the test was turned positive, because the only person that possessed cocaine that night was the officer,” Burdges said. “I think the officer had the drugs.”
Butler believes the officer and the production team behind COPS knew that she didn’t have drugs. Butler’s possession charge was later dropped after testing by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation found no drugs.
This is not the first accusation of a law enforcement officer doing whatever it takes to catch a “criminal” on camera. A Miami man recently won a large settlement after officers ignored evidence in order to “get their man” and falsely arrest him for murder on camera.
Gwinnett County is known as the county that began to strap suspected drunk drivers on a gurney and take his or her blood. In addition, nine Gwinnett deputies were fired earlier this year after a college student was allowed to die in a restraint chair instead of being taken to a hospital.