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Arizona man seeks $500,000 over dismissed DUI case

SURPRISE, Ariz. — A man is seeking $500,000 from an Arizona city for his
arrest on a drunken driving charge even though a breath-alcohol test showed he
hadn’t consumed any alcohol.

Jessie Thornton was cited in a Dec. 7 traffic stop in the Phoenix suburb of
Surprise, but the misdemeanor drunken driving charge was dismissed nearly two
months later after a blood test revealed no signs of mind-altering drugs in his

In a precursor to a lawsuit, Thornton, who is black, filed a $500,000 notice of
claim against the city in late April, alleging he is the victim of racial
profiling and harassment by Surprise police.

The Surprise Police Department had no immediate comment Monday on Thornton’s

Police say the 64-year-old retired firefighter had crossed a white roadway
line, had blood shot eyes, acknowledged taking a prescription blood-pressure
medication and swayed and struggled to keep his balance during a sobriety test.

Thornton’s lawyer Marc Victor says his client’s eyes were bloodshot because had
just returned from swimming at a gym and that he was suffering from knee and hip
problems at the time.

Police say Thornton yelled during the arrest but insisted throughout that he
was sober.

A breath test showed Thornton’s blood alcohol level to be 0.00.

An officer who is a drug recognition expert had concluded Thornton wasn’t under
the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Still, Thornton was cited for the misdemeanor charge, but the charge was
eventually dismissed.


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