Sober man DUI: Retired firefighter gets DUI for blood alcohol level of 0.000

Jun 10, 2013 - 0 Comments

June 10, 2013

The sober man DUI news story is causing uproar. Getting a DUI for “D-W-B, driving while black," losing one’s license, and having one’s car impounded for a blood alcohol level of 0.000 is appalling. To top it off, the sober 64-year-old man who received the DUI was forced to undergo a painful examination on the side of the road despite having medical needs, and undergo a series of drug tests, reported 7 ABC Action News on June 9, 2013.

The sober man who was arrested for DUI because a police officer told him that “you look like you are drunk” is 64-year-old Jessie Thornton from Surprise in Arizona. Jessie Thornton moved to a retirement community in Surprise after retiring as a firefighter. Jessie Thornton’s wife is an ER nurse and works, as many nurses do, three 12-hour shifts. In order to be able to spend time with his wife, Jessie Thornton sleeps during the day and takes care of errands during the night.

"I've been stopped 10 times in Surprise and given four tickets, it's amazing," said Jessie Thornton.

In the latest incident, Jessie Thornton didn’t just get a ticket when he was stopped by police around 11 p.m. on Friday night for crossing the white line in his lane.

Jessie Thornton, the sober man who received the DUI, had just left LA Fitness where he was in the pool swimming so when officers pulled him over and asked him to take his glasses off, his eyes looked red.

"I take my glasses off and he says, 'You've got bloodshot eyes.' I said, 'I've been swimming at LA Fitness,' and he says, 'I think you're DUI,'" said Jessie Thornton. "He (the officer) goes, 'Well we're going to do a sobriety test.' I said, 'OK, but I got bad knees and a bad hip with surgery in two days'."

Court documents show that all of the information provided by the retired firefighter was correct. Police officers, however, placed the sober man in handcuffs, forced him to sit on the curb, which was difficult and painful for Jessie Thornton, and after two more officers arrived, they took a sobriety test.

"At one point, one of the officers shined the light in my eye and said, 'Oh, sorry,' and asked the other officer if he was doing it right'," said Jessie Thornton.

Despite being a sober man, Jessie Thornton was placed in the back of an SUV under the suspicion of DUI and taken to police headquarters. When the 64-year-old man asked the police officer if his seat could be moved because his hip was hurting, she told him “to stop whining.”

At the police headquarters, Jessie Thornton had to undergo a breathalyzer test which showed he had a blood alcohol level of 0.000. Still not satisfied that there was no DUI for the sober man, Jessie Thornton had to take a series of drug tests.

After a Drug Recognition Expert (DRE) found absolutely no signs of any drugs, the DRE expert said that “I would never have arrested you, you show no signs of impairment."

Despite being a sober and drug-free man, Jessie Thornton’s car was impounded and the MVD was notified of the DUI charge. Jessie Thornton’s wife had to leave her work to come and pick up her retired firefighter husband from police headquarters.

Jessie Thornton did get his hip replacement surgery days after the arrest. His daughter, who is in law enforcement, has filed an official complaint with the City of Surprise and the family has taken a lawyer. The sober man who was arrested for DUI says that “Listen, I was a firefighter and firefighters work hand in hand with police officers, I have nothing against police officers, this just wasn't right."

Since the sober man DUI incident is pending legal action, the Surprise Police Department did not provide a comment to ABC 15 when given the opportunity.

However, Marc Victor, Jessie Thornton’s lawyer, whose office has filed a claim against the City of Surprise seeking $500,000, has provided a comment.

"This is a case of D-W-B, driving while black. This is not the way American citizens ought to be treated by officers or treated by anybody for that matter.”

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