JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — A Jacksonville man says he was falsely accused of drug possession. This comes after JSO’s announcement yesterday that the field-test kits they’ve been using produced false positive results for cocaine.
Hafez McDonald’s charges were dropped nearly a week later, but he says that was enough to change his life.
“I lost my job immediately,” McDonald said. “My security licenses were completely suspended. They haven’t returned my firearms.”
Hafez McDonald was arrested nearly two months ago for armed possession of cocaine. A JSO arrest report says officers started investigating McDonald when they noticed he was parked on the wrong side of the road. That’s when they found a bottle of B-12 vitamins with “a cloud of white powder coming out of it.”
“In the first hour, they said that it tested positive for fentanyl,” McDonald said. “I’m handcuffed in the back of the car and I’m begging them telling them, ‘hey, it’s just vitamins.’ I promise you I got it from Jax Pharmacy. It had the stamp on it.”
McDonald said he had firearms in his vehicle because he was working for the city as an armed guard. He was employed with First Coast Security.
By hour three of his detainment, a field test indicated there was cocaine and fentanyl in the bottle.
“The supervisor told me you know, in his 15 years of work, he has never seen a test kit react positive to something that wasn’t drugs,” McDonald said.
But yesterday, JSO said their Scott Company field test kits were producing false positives. Just after five days in jail, the State Attorney’s Office dropped the charges.
“Everything that I had to work hard for, just to hear whoops, our bad,” McDonald said. “Now you go ahead and fix the rest of it. And it’s just been, it’s been, it’s been discouraging.”
McDonald has been arrested previously including a 2014 misdemeanor drug charge for marijuana possession.
“I’ve made my mistakes, you know, but I’ve made the choice to correct those actions, and make sure that my future goes in a better direction and a brighter path,” McDonald said.
Action News Jax Law and Safety Expert Dale Carson says unfortunately the penalties don’t go away. He says the only next thing McDonald can do is sue the company.
“There’s very little recourse other than litigating the company that created the product that falsely identified what you have,” Carson said.
Now, McDonald is looking for an attorney to help him with the next steps.
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In a new statement, the Scott Company says its product has always functioned as intended. Due the chemical structures of a drug, the Scott Company says, “There is no test specifically for cocaine alone - only a few known tests that, incidentally, cocaine happens to present a known reaction in. Because of this shortcoming in the laws of chemistry, it IS possible that a false positive result can occur. This is not unique to the Scott Company reagent.”