City settles with Brooklyn men arrested by NYPD cops who confused Jolly Rancher candies for crystal meth
Dailey News, September 4, 2014
The city has dispensed a sweet settlement to three Brooklyn men who sued the NYPD after cops bizarrely mistook Jolly Rancher candies for crystal meth, the Daily News has learned.
With their $33,000 payday, plaintiffs Love Olatunjiojo, Omar Ferriera and Jimmy Santos no longer have a sour taste in their mouths over the trippy busts last year in Coney Island.
The city admitted no wrongdoing on the part of the cops, arguing they couldn’t be sure whether the red and blue rocks were illicit drugs or candy, according to the plaintiffs’ lawyer Kenneth Smith.
“To my knowledge there is no evidence in the scientific literature that crystal meth looks like Jolly Ranchers or rock candy, other than from the ‘Breaking Bad’ TV show,” Smith told The News.
“Walter White may dictate what drugs look like in TV land, but not the narcotics policy of the NYPD,” Smith added, referring to the meth-dealing lead character of the acclaimed show.
Olatunjiojo, 26, and Ferriera 23, were stopped by the cops shortly after leaving the It’Sugar candy emporium on Surf Ave. where they had purchased various sweet treats including Jolly Ranchers, according to papers filed in Brooklyn Federal Court.
Police Officers Jermaine Taylor and Jovanny Calderon handcuffed the men and claimed that an undercover colleague had observed them selling drugs, the court papers state.
“Finding only candy, including the Jolly Rancher candy mentioned, the officers repeatedly searched Ferreira and Olatunjiojo and told them it was ‘only a matter of time before they found something,’” the suit states.
Sano, 27, standing nearby with his 3-year-old daughter, protested the arrests of his two friends. Officer Diana Pichardo ordered Sano’s arrest and he was allegedly punched in the face by an unidentified cop before all three men were transported to the 60th Precinct station house.
Court documents filed in connection with the drug possession charges against Olatunjiojo and Ferriera asserted that the cops had performed a field test on the candy and it tested positive for a controlled substance. Sano was charged with obstructing government administration. They spent about 24 hours in custody before a judge released them on their own recognizance.
The NYPD laboratory later concluded the two red and four blue “crystalline rocks of solid material” were not drugs and the case went up in smoke.
After the suit was filed, Smith said he was informed by the city that there was in fact no drug field test performed and that the cops insisted the district attorney’s officer was never told otherwise.
Olatunjiojo and Ferriera will pocket $4,000 each and $25,000 to Sano to settle their claims, according to papers filed last month. Olatunjiojo and Ferriera will receive less because the cops determined during the booking process that there were outstanding bench warrants against them for failing to show up in court for quality of life summonses.
Smith said the summonses were not for drug-related violations.
A spokesman for the city Law Department said the settlement was in the best interest of all parties.