Matt Crull was just an ordinary 29-year-old Florida man, until he was arrested for possessing 92 grams of heroin — which carries a street price of more than $18,000, according to American Addiction Centers.
Crull was sleeping in his newly purchased but used Astro van, parked at a KFC restaurant, when paramedics arrived. They were responding to a “suspicious van” alert. Then deputies arrived, including Steven O’Leary. In the driver’s side door was a “white powdery substance,” which was “wrapped in plastic with a hair tie around it,” according to WPTV. Crull told the deputy is was Tide laundry detergent. O’Leary didn’t buy it, and reported it was heroin, claiming a field test proved it as such, according to the Miami Herald.
“He showed me a picture of the field test kit that he supposedly conducted, on his phone,” Crull told CBS12. “He never actually showed me the real test kit.”
“I just looked at him baffled and confused because I had no idea as to where 92 grams of heroin came from inside my van,” Crull told WPTV.
Crull told WPTV he had bought the van three weeks earlier for $1,400 and thought that maybe there was heroin left over from the previous owner.
Crull spent 41 days in jail, missing Christmas and New Year’s, before finally being released. The substance was, in fact, laundry detergent. He and 10 other people have been wrongly imprisoned by O’Leary, who claimed they were holding drugs when in fact the substance was legal. O’Leary has not been fired, and the Martin County Sheriff’s department is attempting to distance itself from him.
“No matter what we do, no matter how hard we try, just based on the law of possibilities there’s always a possibility that one bad apple will slip through,” Snyder told WPTV.
Crull has a criminal record and has been to jail before, but never for something as serious as trafficking heroin.
“In the past, when I have gone to jail, it’s been something where I knew I wasn’t going to be there forever. It’s a lot different than going to jail and the charge of trafficking of heroin carries a penalty of 25 years in prison,” Crull told WPTV.
He told WPBF25 that it’s “very surreal when you’re sitting in jail with a half a million dollars bond and you can’t go anywhere knowing that you didn’t do wrong.”
He added: “I’m not saying he ruined my life, but he definitely caused me a lot of emotional distress and a lot of stress on my family.”
He is unsure whether he will sue the sheriff’s department, WPTV reported.
While Crull and 10 other innocent people were the victims of bad policing by one officer, this is not an isolated incident. In 2016, a Georgia woman was arrested for allegedly carrying meth. The substance was actually cotton candy. The woman is now suing Monroe County, GA, the manufacturer of the test that originally claimed the substance was meth, and the deputies who administered that test.