Jessie Thornton, a 64-year old retired firefighter from Ohio was arrested following a standard battery of field sobriety tests. Thornton was given a breathalyzer test at the station, showed a blood alcohol content of 0.00.
Thornton says his late hours have made him a target of police action. His wife is an emergency room nurse and he changed his hours to match hers. He now sleeps during the day and runs errands at night. He told reporters that he had been stopped ten times since moving to a retirement community in Surprise, Arizona, and that he had been ticket four times. His latest run-in with the police lead him to hire a lawyer and file a lawsuit.
Thornton’s story starts shortly after leaving LA Fitness. A police officer told him that he had been pulled over for crossing the white lane line. The cop claimed that he knew Thornton was driving under the influence just by looking at his eyes. Thornton removed his glasses and told the officer that he had just gone swimming at the gym. He was asked to exit his vehicle and to perform a field sobriety test. He told the officer that he had bad knees and hip surgery scheduled in a few days. Records indicate that Thornton was telling the truth, that he did in fact have surgery scheduled two days after the incident with police. These points were noted on the police report.
Two more officers arrived and watched Thornton perform the tests. He was eventually handcuffed and told to sit on the curb. His ailments troubled him so much that he had to lay on the ground until he was picked up by police and placed in the back of an SUV. He asked one of the officers to move their seat up, because his sitting position aggravated his bag knee. He was told to stop whining.
At the station, he was given a standard breathalyzer test. It showed no alcohol in his system. A drug recognition expert was called to test Thornton. He told Thornton that he should not have been detained because he didn’t show any signs of impairment. In his evaluation, the DRE expert wrote that, in his opinion, Thornton was not under the effects of any drugs or alcohol.
Thornton was later released to his wife. Days later, he underwent the scheduled hip surgery. His vehicle was impounded and he received a message from the Motor Vehicle Department that his license was suspended. He was told that he would have to attend alcohol intervention classes. This lead Thornton to fight back. His attorney has filed suit against the city for $500,000. His daughter, who works in law enforcement, has also filed an official complaint with the city. His DUI charge has been dropped, but he said that it is not enough to make up for what he was put through. He told reporters that he wants to make sure that this doesn’t happen to anyone else.