Georgia Grandmother Spent 3 Months in Prison After Police Confused Cotton Candy for Meth
Dasha Fincher spent the first three months of 2017 behind bars, held on $1 million bond after being falsely accused of possessing crystal meth after a traffic stop. The Georgia grandmother missed out on a lot in those three months, including the births of her twin grandsons.
She was released only when the state’s crime lab determined the substance cops seized from her car during the stop was blue cotton candy, which was inside a plastic bag and melted under the heat of the sun and then hardened as it cooled. A roadside drug test yielded a false positive for the substance.
Earlier this month, lawyers representing Fincher filed a lawsuit on her behalf, seeking unspecified punitive damages. The civil filing names the Monroe County Board of Commissioners as well as three sheriff’s deputies as defendants.
The suit also names Sirchie, the company that made the drug test.
According to the lawsuit, which was obtained by PEOPLE, Fincher and her boyfriend were stopped by sheriff’s deputies on Dec. 31, 2016 — allegedly because of the “very dark window tint” of their car.
A police report obtained by PEOPLE alleges that Fincher and her boyfriend appeared “nervous” during the stop. The report alleges that both “started to shake” when asked to exit the car.
After finding the bag of what was essentially rock candy, the deputies tested it in front of her, on the hood of their cruiser.
“He just said, ‘Could you all tell me why this has tested positive for methamphetamines?'” Fincher told the New York Times. “We were like, ‘It shouldn’t be, it’s just cotton candy.'”
But the sheriff’s deputies didn’t believe her and she was arrested for trafficking meth and possession of meth with the intent to distribute — a charge that was dismissed two weeks after her release on April 4, 2017.
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Speaking to the Times, Fincher said the false arrest prevented her from consoling one of her daughters, who suffered a miscarriage while she was incarcerated. She also suffered an injury to her hand from punching a concrete wall in frustration.
“I knew it was cotton candy, and for him to come back and say it was meth, I really didn’t know what to say,” Fincher told the Times. “I kept thinking, ‘This is crazy, I’ll get out tomorrow.’ Then when I wasn’t out by Sunday, I said, ‘It’s a holiday weekend, I’ll be home Monday.’ Then every day turned into ‘I’ll be out tomorrow.'”
According to the suit, the arresting officers “had no training in drug recognition” and later, failed to disclose the “unlikelihood that such a large quantity of methamphetamine would be transported in an open, large plastic bag laying on the floorboard of a car.”
The suit argues the two deputies had to have known roadside drug tests are historically fallible, but nevertheless “falsely presented their findings to the court as scientifically reliable.”
PEOPLE was unable to reach a lawyer for Monroe County for comment Thursday.
Attempts to reach Fincher were also unsuccessful.