Simply put, Mr. Thorton has fallen victim to an over-zealous officer who sought to put numbers before common sense. All too often, many officers who have been given tools in the academy to assist with arrest decisions refuse to consider any other possible reason a person might be demonstrating signs similar to alcohol/drug impairment. This officer could have ended his investigation by listening to Mr. Thorton’s reasons for his blood shot watery eyes or confirming he had been at LA Fitness swimming and not drinking or doing drugs.
DUI investigations are designed for suspects to fail. Race aside, officers are trained to start their investigation and have likely already formed an opinion about the suspect’s sobriety long before they have the suspect exit the car.
For example, officers are given 24 cues to look for in night time driving to help determine whether the person might be under the influence of alcohol/drugs. Each of these cues are assigned a certain percentage. Unfortunately for Mr. Thorton, driving outside of a lane is a cue with a high percentage.
Unbeknownst to stopped suspects, officers are trained to have their suspects divide their attention the moment officers walk up to them. If the suspects have difficulty producing their license or have trouble finding their insurance and registration, officers use these cues to make their arrest decision.
Officers are trained that blood shot watery eyes are merely a sign of alcohol ingestion amongst many other possibilities including swimming. The officer in Mr. Thorton’s situation erroneously treated the blood shot watery eyes as a sign of impairment and not just one of ingestion.
For Mr. Thorton, race may have played a part in the other traffic stops, but in my opinion, this travesty is one of over zealousness trumping common sense.