An Atlanta trans woman who served six months in jail after she was arrested over bogus drug charges in October 2015 was awarded $1.5 million by a federal judge.
Ju’Zema Goldring, a transgender woman, was walking alone when was falsely arrested by two Atlanta policemen. The officers found a stress ball in her handbag with some unknown substance inside. After a narcotics test, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation found no evidence of illegal drugs but arrested her for trafficking cocaine.
Goldring’s attorney Jeff Filipovits said she got bail after spending six months in a male prison.
The Georgia Bureau of Investigation conducted an independent test and could not detect any cocaine. “The test was negative, and he charged her anyway,” Filipovits said in a statement.
He added, “Everyone on the jury saw that the test was negative. It should not have taken seven years and a federal jury trial to bring this to light. It’s terrifying to think what other abuses the City of Atlanta has tolerated that haven’t gotten our attention. Our client was obviously profiled, as are so many others.”
Goldring told WSB that she was put up in a men’s jail. Filipovits filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the city in 2019. Goldring’s attorneys claimed that the accused officer violated the 2014 Atlanta Police Department’s Transgender Interaction policy.
The judge also stated the two “injustices” in Goldring’s case.
“For one thing, any arrest, even for a low-level offense like jaywalking, can seriously disrupt a person’s life, including by making it harder for him or her to obtain employment,” he wrote. “Beyond that, the time it takes for an officer to arrest someone for jaywalking arguably could be better spent on more pressing activities, such as addressing violent crimes, which seem so prevalent in recent times, or with engaging with the community.”
“Consider an officer who is at the end of his shift and has not yet hit that day’s points target; rather than writing a citation for someone speeding on the highway (or jaywalking across the street), it would seem the officer might be tempted to instead arrest that person for just a couple extra points,” the judge said.