A Black Atlantan trans woman has been granted $1.5 million dollars after being wrongfully arrested and imprisoned for more than five months.
In 2015, Ju’Zema Goldring was arrested for jaywalking and a false claim there was cocaine disclosed in a stress ball within her purse.
Officers Vladimir Henry and Juan Restrepo reportedly called Goldring anti-trans slurs and subjected her to an “invasive” search, as reported by The New York Times.
“[Goldring] spent nearly six months in the Fulton County Jail based on this seemingly bogus charge,” Judge Ray wrote in his ruling.
Goldring initially believed the officers “were joking” about the accusation of drugs possession, the lawsuit states. However, this was not the case and Goldring was escorted to Fulton County Jail.
The lawsuit reports officer Henry was told to “Give it up, buddy” after the multiple drug reports came back clear at the county jail.
Goldring was confined to jail until the drug results were processed and returned from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, her lawyers told NYT.
Alternatively, Goldring was offered to pay her bond which was set at $25,500, which she was unable to afford.
Goldring remained in jail for five months (until March 2016) and her drug charges were dismissed. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation determined the contents of the stress ball were drug-free on 17 November 2015, according to the lawsuit.
While imprisoned, Goldring was placed in a dorm allocated for transgender women, however, she was subjected to sexual misconduct.
Judge Ray’s ruling stated that “two seeming injustices that came to light at the trial”. The judge was referring to the officer’s accusation of jaywalking and possession of drugs and stated such offences could “seriously disrupt a person’s life”.
Miguel A. Dominguez, one Goldring’s lawyers, said the ordeal caused a “tremendous negative impact on her life” and cause her to deal with nightmares and mental health issues.
Judge Ray called the 2015 arrest a “bogus charge” and granted Goldring $1.5 million dollars in his ruling.
During his ruling, Judge Ray raised concerns over the Atlanta Police Department’s system of rewarding officers with points for actions such as traffic citations or arrests.
Judge Ray said the current police system risks creating a “perverse incentives for officers” and hopes Atlanta and the department would reform the practice.