Monday, January 09, 2017 by Vicki Batts
In the latest incident of law enforcement gone too far, a Houston man was charged and arrested for possession. You may be wondering, “What’s so bad about that?” And normally, you’d be correct. But in this particular incident, the man in question — one Ross LeBeau — was merely in possession of kitty litter.
Kitty litter is a pretty mundane substance, but apparently, if you put it in a sock to keep a foggy windshield at bay, you might be suspected of a crime.
In this particular incident, law enforcement arrested LeBeau during a traffic stop, believing he was carting around half a pound of methamphetamine. In reality, this “meth” was actually a sock filled with kitty litter to reduce window fog.
“They thought they had the biggest bust in Harris County. This was the bust of the year for them,” LaBeau commented.
After the early December arrest, deputies from the county sent out a press release describing the “bust,” complete with a mugshot.
Following his wrongful capture, LeBeau was fingerprinted before spending three days in jail prior to being released. Problems began to arise for LeBeau when not one, but two initial field tests performed by deputies, came back positive for meth.
A third test, which was conducted later by the county’s forensic lab, revealed that the kitty litter was not, in fact, a controlled substance. What a turn of events.
Despite the fact that LeBeau reports having missed time at work and consequently, lost his job due to the accusation, he maintains that the deputies are not to blame. According to the innocent man’s attorney, faulty testing equipment is really what is at the root of this problem.
“Ultimately it might be bad testing equipment that they need to re-evaluate,” attorney George Reul said.
Even though he has been released, LeBeau still faces the challenge of having his record expunged.
“I was wrongly accused. I’m going to do everything in my power to clear my name.”
This just goes to show that even law enforcement officers are capable of making mistakes. And clearly, if equipment is outdated or not functioning at its optimum capacity — it simply should not be used. It is bad practice to allow this kind of thing to happen. Perhaps, if field testing is so untrustworthy as to read kitty litter as methamphetamine, deputies should be required to wait for lab confirmation before charging suspects with crimes that could be costly.