SURPRISE, Ariz., (UPI) — An Arizona man who was arrested for driving under the influence despite a breathalyzer test showing he was sober said it was a case of racial profiling.
Jessie Thornton, 64, filed a lawsuit Monday against the Surprise Police Department for $500,000 for violating his civil rights and emotional distress, The Huffington Post reported Monday.
He was arrested for DUI in December after he crossed a white traffic line while driving. When police in Surprise pulled him over, they noted his bloodshot eyes and insisted he take field sobriety tests.
Thornton told KNXV-TV, Phoenix, he explained to police his eyes were bloodshot because he had just been swimming, but they arrested him anyway.
He said it was a case of “DWB.”
“It’s driving while black,” Thornton said, explaining the arrest was part of a four-year pattern of alleged harassment by police.
He said he had been stopped 10 times, and ticketed in four of the instances for violations he said he didn’t commit.
Thorton’s toxicology and breathalyzer tests came back negative and after months of legal wrangling, the DUI charges were dropped, the Post reported.
Thornton said the arrest permanently damaged his reputation because the charges remain on his record.