Man spends 90 days in jail after drug test kit mistakes drywall powder for cocaine
OVIEDO, Fla. (CNN) — A Florida police department is reviewing its drug test kits after a man spent 90 days in jail when a white powder in his car wrongly tested positive for cocaine.
Karlos Cashe was initially pulled over for driving without headlights in March. The situation took an unexpected turn when an officer with the Oviedo Police Department ran Cashe’s information. After court records showed Cashe was on probation for possession of marijuana and cocaine and out past his court-ordered curfew, he was immediately put in handcuffs. The curfew violation was later proved to be a computer glitch, Oviedo Police Lt. Heather Capetillo said.
When the officer searched Cashe’s car, marijuana and white powder were found on his seat and floorboard, and the officer field tested the white substance using a test kit. The officer also found drywall dust inside the man’s phone cover. Cashe is a construction worker.
The field test came up positive for cocaine. Cashe was then arrested on drug charges and was taken to jail, where he waited 90 days before final test results came back; this time, they were clean.
Oviedo police said prosecutors sent only the suspected cocaine to Florida Department of Law Enforcement lab testing because they decided to drop the marijuana charges and pursue a higher charge of felony for cocaine.
The results came back three months later, and they said the substance tested negative for any kind of drugs.
“It wasn’t a false arrest. We had probable cause for the stop,” Capetillo said.
The officer used Safariland’s NarcoPouch to conduct the field test. Capetillo said this was the first time the department found a difference between the results of the field test kit and the lab results.
“I don’t know if it was the kit or the sample being so small. I have no idea,” Capetillo said.
When asked about the suspected white powder, Capetillo said, “What the other stuff was I don’t know. It could be french fries for all I know.”