• Michelle Dawn Mooney

Vineland man spent four months in jail after cop mistook rock salt for meth, suit claims

A man spent four months in jail after a Vineland police officer who stopped his car claimed a field test determined he had two rocks of methamphetamine. But what Officer Jonathan Rodriguez claimed was a drug was just rock salt, according to the lawsuit filed in federal court last month. James Buzby III lost income, health coverage and was not treated for his Hepatitis C as it took more than five months of house arrest and incarceration before the charges were dropped, the suit states. Buzby was pulled over in 2017, while leaving a friend’s home in Vineland. The officer checked his credentials and told him there was an outstanding warrant. He then searched the vehicle and found what he said were one or two rocks of methamphetamine, according to the lawsuit. When Buzby said it was likely rock salt, Rodriguez told him that a field test confirmed it was a controlled dangerous substance. The Vineland man was then jailed, and released the next day on house arrest. After five weeks, he then was told the arrest violated his probation, and was jailed in Camden County. Four months later, Buzby’s attorney informed him that a field test was never conducted, and that the alleged drug was not determined to be a CDS. On Aug. 21, 2017, all charges were dropped. Buzby is suing for wrongful imprisonment. The suit demands at least $75,000 along with other damages.

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