Florida

Florida man spent 41 days in jail for heroin. But it was actually detergent, cops say

Matt Crull said he was falsely arrested in December for possessing heroin in Martin County, Florida, when officer Steven O’Leary mistook his detergent for the drug. The cop was fired for 11 false drug charges.
Matt Crull said he was falsely arrested in December for possessing heroin in Martin County, Florida, when officer Steven O’Leary mistook his detergent for the drug. The cop was fired for 11 false drug charges. Screengrab from WPBF

For nearly six full weeks, 29-year-old Matt Crull said he sat inside a Florida jail for a crime he didn’t commit.

The charge was trafficking heroin, according to CBS12. It came with a steep potential punishment and bond, which frightened Crull, who said an officer mistook laundry detergent for heroin.

“(It’s) very surreal when you’re sitting in jail with a half a million dollars bond,” Crull told WPBF25, “and you can’t go anywhere knowing that you didn’t do wrong.

“In the past, when I have gone to jail, it’s been something where I knew I wasn’t going to be there forever,” Crull said, according to WPTV. “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 was arrested by Martin County Sheriff’s deputy Steven O’Leary on Dec. 5, according to WPTV. Sheriff William Snyder says the officer has been fired after an investigation uncovered that at least 11 people he put in jail for drug charges were found innocent, the TV station reported.

“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 said, according to WPTV. The TV station reported that Crull may sue for damages.

Crull was sleeping inside his van in a parking lot before the arrest, according to CBS12. Officers got word of a “suspicious van” and went to check it out.

That’s when police say O’Leary found a bag of Tide laundry detergent and claimed a field test proved it was heroin, CBS12 reported.

“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.”

But Crull said he was confused how a drug was found in his car in the first place.

“I just looked at him baffled and confused,” he told WPTV, “because I had no idea as to where 92 grams of heroin came from inside my van.”

Snyder said they “couldn’t find anything credible with what O’Leary stated” and freed the 11 people, including Crull, who had been accused of possessing drugs, as reported by CBS12.

Now, Crull has a message for the officer whose arrest stole weeks of his life away.

“I’m not saying he ruined my life,” Crull told WPBF25, “but he definitely caused me a lot of emotional distress and a lot of stress on my family.”

Richard Jones speaks on his experience after being exonerated on aggravated robbery charges nearly 17 years after being arrested.

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