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This Woman Spent Three Months In Jail After Police Mistook Cotton Candy For Meth

Dasha Fincher is suing a Georgia county and the manufacturers of a roadside drug test used by cops after it falsely identified blue cotton candy as methamphetamine.

Posted on November 29, 2018, at 4:35 a.m. ET

Dasha Fincher / Via

A Georgia woman spent more than three months in jail after the car she was riding in was pulled over by cops, who said an old piece of blue cotton candy that they found in the car was methamphetamine. A crime lab later showed they were wrong.

Dasha Fincher is suing Monroe County, Georgia, two deputies, and the North Carolina company Sirchie, which manufactures a roadside drug test popular with law enforcement, for false and malicious arrest, among other claims listed in the complaint. Fincher is seeking equitable relief and unspecified monetary damages.

In the lawsuit filed earlier this month, Dasha Fincher said she was arrested in Monroe County on New Year's Eve in 2016 after a car in which she was a passenger was pulled over. The two sheriff's deputies said they pulled the car over because the windows were tinted, but later admitted the windows were legal.

The officers said they found inside the car a "clear plastic bag which contained a light blue substance, spherical in shape, which was located in the floor board." Fincher and the driver said it was "simply a bag of blue cotton candy."

The officers arrested Fincher and the driver after saying the roadside test done with Sirchie's Nark II had said the substance was positive for methamphetamine. Fincher was charged with trafficking and possession of meth with intent to distribute it.

ProPublica published a story in 2016 about the limits and errors of the Nark II despite a slick marketing campaign by Sirchie, which supplies a range of equipment to law enforcement agencies.

A year earlier, the Innocence Project published a story that included strange items incorrectly identified by police tests as drugs, leading to wrongful arrests, like sage, Jolly Ranchers, and breath mints.

13wmaz / Via

Dashcam footage shows Fincher on New Year's Eve in 2016 after being pulled over as the passenger of a car in Monroe County, Georgia.

Unable to pay her $1 million cash bond, Fincher remained incarcerated for over three months. On March 22, 2017, a test of the blue cotton candy by a crime lab showed that it was not a controlled substance, but Fincher was not released from jail until April 4, when her charges were dropped. Still, the charges remain on her record, according to the complaint.

While in jail, Fincher missed the birth of her twin grandsons and broke her hand on a concrete wall, which she punched in frustration with her incarceration. The complaint also said she missed her daughter's miscarriage and was unable to console her while in jail.

A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.