A girl jailed in Etowah County for allegedly utilizing medicine throughout being pregnant has filed a lawsuit in opposition to the sheriff’s workplace saying she wasn’t pregnant, and that investigators positioned a toddler’s phrases over medical affirmation.
Stacey Freeman of Gallant was beneath investigation by the Division of Human Assets for substance use when considered one of her kids informed a social employee her mother was pregnant, in accordance with the lawsuit. Freeman provided to take a being pregnant take a look at and Etowah County Division of Human Assets staff entered an order for one. Nonetheless, she by no means took the take a look at and Etowah County Sheriff Investigator Brandi Fuller issued a warrant for her arrest, in accordance with the lawsuit.
Freeman was arrested for chemical endangerment of a kid and booked on Feb. 1 into the Etowah County Detention Heart. Her mug shot was circulated and may nonetheless be discovered on-line. She was launched about 36 hours after her arrest and the costs have been dropped, however her legal professional Martin Weinberg stated the ordeal was embarrassing and traumatic for his shopper.
“It’s simply shameful you possibly can go off any person’s phrase that any person’s pregnant,” Weinberg stated. “It’s straightforward to confirm by way of a being pregnant take a look at.”
The lawsuit names Fuller and Etowah County Sheriff Jonathon Horton. On the time she was arrested, Freeman confronted the usual bond circumstances for chemical endangerment in Etowah County that required her to place up $10,000 money and enter rehab. County officers have ended that observe most often following reports in AL.com in September.
Fuller and Horton haven’t but responded to requests for remark.
The lawsuit alleges that Freeman was on her menstrual cycle on the time of her arrest and couldn’t get female hygiene merchandise whereas she was contained in the jail. It additionally stated that after her launch, Fuller warned Freeman to not get pregnant or she may face further costs.
Fuller has been concerned in “an obscene variety of arrests for pregnant and postpartum ladies,” in accordance with the lawsuit. Analysis by Being pregnant Justice (previously referred to as Nationwide Advocates for Pregnant Ladies) discovered that Etowah County arrested and prosecuted extra ladies for drug use throughout being pregnant than another county within the state. Greater than 150 ladies have been recognized by their researchers and Fuller has been concerned most often, they discovered.
“The Sheriff’s division and its staff have been reckless in investigating in making arrests of girls for chemical endangerment after which encouraging their prosecution,” the lawsuit stated.
The lawsuit alleges false imprisonment, defamation and negligence by members of the Etowah County Sheriff’s Division. It stated investigators relied on the phrase of a minor baby and failed to substantiate the details earlier than arresting and jailing Freeman. Consequently, Freeman suffered public humiliation. Weinberg stated she nonetheless will get questions in regards to the arrest.
“She’s nonetheless having folks cease her and say, ‘Weren’t you charged with utilizing medicine whereas pregnant?’” Weinberg stated. “There may be nonetheless embarrassment.”
Her costs have been dropped, however they haven’t been expunged, so the case stays obtainable as a public file. The warrant incorrectly states that Freeman examined optimistic for marijuana, amphetamines and alcohol whereas pregnant.
Etowah County officers have lengthy taken an aggressive stance towards prosecuting drug use throughout being pregnant. Again in 2013, after the Alabama Supreme Court docket dominated the chemical endangerment legislation utilized to pregnant ladies and fetuses, former Sheriff Todd Entrekin stated his workplace would work closely with the district legal professional and Division of Human Assets to deliver costs. In September, Etowah County District Lawyer Jody Willoughby stated his office would continue to pursue felony costs in opposition to ladies who use medicine throughout being pregnant after they got here beneath fireplace for harsh bond circumstances that stored ladies in jail for months.
“I can guarantee you I’ll proceed to prosecute those that hurt harmless life to the fullest extent of the legislation,” Willoughby stated in a press release.
Weinberg stated Freeman spent about 36 hours in jail earlier than she was launched. Though she didn’t spend a very long time incarcerated, he stated investigators may have prevented it fully by administering a being pregnant take a look at that Freeman provided to take. He stated the sheriff’s division has proven a sample of aggressively implementing the state’s chemical endangerment legislation, which makes it unlawful to make use of medicine throughout being pregnant.
“It’s good that the costs have been dropped,” Weinberg stated. “However there’s hurt in somebody even being arrested and spending two days in jail. Wrongful arrest and malicious arrest is problematic by itself.”