Man jailed for 3 days after Texas cops confuse cat litter for meth

Press-released their pride at taking down kingpin...

Cat in tupperware image via Shutterstock

Spare a thought for Ross LeBeau, who spent three days in jail when Texas cops confused cat litter for methamphetamine during a routine traffic stop.

Although LeBeau has since been released without charge, he claims to have lost work as a result of the arrest, and is upset at the damage to his reputation.

The Houston man had been stashing almost half a pound (220g) of cat litter in a sock in his car in the hope of stopping his windows fogging up, but in December two separate roadside field tests both gave false positives on the litter for meth.

LeBeau got nicked and the cops of Harris County Sheriff's Office sent out a press release, including a mugshot, bragging of what they thought was the bust of the year, and claiming the arrest "may have kept our children and loved ones free from being introduced to drugs."

The suspect was in jail for three days before a more thorough testing procedure in a laboratory identified that the suspected methamphetamine was in fact kitty litter.

According to LeBeau's attorney, George Reul, LeBeau does not blame the arresting deputies, but the roadside tests which provided false positives. "Ultimately it might be bad budget-cutting testing equipment they need to re-evaluate," Reul said.

Houston has been at the centre of a scandal regarding the $2 roadside drug tests, which have been alleged to be sending tens of thousands of folk to jail on an annual basis, despite their proclivity for producing false positives.

An article by ProPublica in conjunction with The New York Times Magazine, which looked at the issue at length, stated: "Widespread evidence shows that these tests routinely produce false positives. Why are police departments and prosecutors still using them?"

LeBeau would like to clear his name and receive an apology. The Register has contacted the Harris County Sheriff's Office for comment. ®


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