ATLANTA — A federal jury has awarded a Black transgender woman from Atlanta $1.5 million after she spent six months in jail after being arrested on fake cocaine charges.
In October 2015, Ju’Zema Goldring was walking with friends when two City of Atlanta police officers stopped and questioned the group. The officers accused Goldring of jaywalking, a crime she said she did not commit, and arrested her.
During the arrest, an officer searched Goldring’s purse and found a stress ball. He cut it open and tested it for cocaine. Defense attorneys said that despite the fact that the test was negative, the officer charged Goldring with trafficking cocaine.
During the arrest, Goldring’s attorneys said one of the officers used an anti-trans slur, violating its own policy.
After subsequent tests by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation also came back negative, Goldring was released from jail six months later and the charges against her were dismissed. Former Channel 2 Anchor Craig Lucie spoke to Goldring after her release. She told him she was detained in a male jail where she was assaulted.
Goldring’s attorneys filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the city in 2019. A jury ruled that Atlanta Police now have to pay Goldring $1.5 million.
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Goldring’s attorneys said she was the victim of police scrutiny based on her identity as a trans woman.
“This case signifies 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,” said attorney Miguel A. Dominguez from the law firm Morgan & Morgan.
Attorneys for the City of Atlanta defended the officer’s actions throughout the trial. Channel 2 Action News has reached out for comment from the Atlanta Police Department, but haven’t heard back.
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