Black Trans Woman Ju’Zema Goldring Awarded $1.5 Million After Being Wrongfully Imprisoned in 2015
Ju’zema Goldring, a black trans woman, was wrongfully arrested in October of 2015 after jaywalking in the LGBTQ district in Atlanta, near 3rd and Piedmont.
According to the lawsuit, then 22-year-old Goldring was arrested for jaywalking by Vladimir Henry and Juan Restrepo, who “invasively” searched her dress and purse, while hurling “transgender slurs” at her. They searched her purse and cut open her stress ball, which they told her contained cocaine. Goldring "thought they were joking".
While at the time the substance they found in the stress ball tested positive for cocaine, in the trial, the field drug test result was shown to be negative.
Goldring had consented to them cutting the stress ball open “because she knew it wasn’t a substance- and even that wasn’t enough” Goldring’s attorney stated in court.
The officers then took her to jail and conducted many drug tests on the stress ball’s content, all coming back negative. The tests were so unneeded, Goldring recalls hearing another officer tell Henry, “Give it a rest buddy”.
Goldring spent nearly six months in jail, even though her initial drug test came back negative, APD still filed a charge against Goldring, accusing her of trafficking cocaine. Her attorney alleged that they had lied about the presence of drugs in the first place.
Despite the tests coming back negative on November 17th, 2015, Goldring was held in Fulton County Jail until all the various test results came back (almost 6 months), pending the payment of the $25,500 bail, which she couldn’t afford. Goldring remained imprisoned until March 22, 2016.
The lawsuit states she faced “sexual misconduct” and violence while in custody. Goldring still has a scar on her head to this day from her experiences. Goldring then rightfully took the case to court. Last week, the federal judge awarded Goldring a 1.5$ million verdict.
The judge recalls two seeming injustices in the ruling, first that the police were even arresting people for jaywalking, and that the Atlanta Police department is run on a system that gives points to officers for making arrests, which is how victimizations of individuals like Goldring occur on an already biased system.
“The court is concerned that such a system may create perverse incentives for officers” Ray said.
Attorneys of Goldring say she will see her payout once the Atlanta City Council consults with the mayor and attorneys representing the APD officer.
“There’s nothing about this that makes this all just go away,” Mr. Dominguez said. “It’s just a portion of what she needs to restore her and make her whole. And this verdict, unfortunately, won’t do that."