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Federal Jury Awards $1.5 Million to Black, Transgender Woman Falsely Arrested for Trafficking Cocaine

Ju’Zema Goldring was awarded $1.5 million by a federal grand jury for false arrest. Goldring, who identifies as a Black, transgender woman, said that she was profiled and arrested by two Atlanta Police Department officers in October 2015.

According to Goldring’s attorneys—Vladimir Henry and Juan Restrepo, she was walking with friends when the two officers stopped her for allegedly jaywalking, a claim that she denies. During a search of her purse, the officers found a “stress ball” and tested it for cocaine by cutting it open. The field test came back negative for cocaine, yet she was still arrested and booked for trafficking cocaine.

She spent six months in jail and was released only after the Georgia Bureau of Investigation performed an independent test that also didn’t detect any cocaine. Goldring was incarcerated in a men’s jail where she was assaulted, she reportedly told a local news outlet.

The judgment is against an individual officer, not the city, according to the mayor’s office.

“The test was negative, and he charged her anyway,” attorney Jeff Filipovits said in a statement. “Everyone on the jury saw that the test was negative. It should not have taken seven years and a federal jury trial to bring this to light. It’s terrifying to think what other abuses the City of Atlanta has tolerated that haven’t gotten our attention. Our client was obviously profiled, as are so many others.”

According to Goldring’s attorneys, the officer violated the Atlanta Police Department’s Transgender Interaction policy, which instructs officers to use a person’s name a pronouns with which they identify during citizen-police interactions and to treat transgender individuals “in a manner appropriate to the individual’s gender identity.”

Dominguez described the decision as “a small but significant victory on behalf of the LGBTQ+ community and other marginalized people here in Atlanta, who have been suffering through discriminatory and callous policing by individuals who swear to protect and serve their communities, but who under the cover of darkness, are indifferent to the consequences of their discriminatory practices on the most vulnerable amongst us.”

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