By Christopher Sign
SURPRISE, Ariz. (KNXV/CNN) - A sober man was arrested forDUI while driving home from the gym. He claims the arrest was for other reasons.
Jessie Thornton is 64, married, a retired firefighter, lives in Surprise, and booked for DUI.
"He said I could tell you're driving DUI by looking in your eyes," said Thornton.
It's not the first time Jessie and Surprise officers met.
"I've been stopped 10 times in Surprise alone. I've been given four tickets," he said.
On this night, Jessie spent a couple of hours in the pool at his gym, and while heading home, was pulled over.
"I took my glasses off. He says, 'You've got bloodshot eyes.' I said, 'I've been swimming at LA Fitness.' He said, 'I think you're DUI,'" said Thornton. "He goes, 'Well we're going to do sobriety test.'"
Jessie was swimming to loosen up his hip which was being replaced two days later. An ailment he says the now three officers didn't buy.
"She looks at me and she says, 'Why don't you stop whining,'" said Thornton.
In the reports he gave KNX-TV, it appeared he passed everything. Jessie was cuffed and taken to headquarters.
"I did a breathalyzer. It comes back zero, zero, zero," said Thornton.
Which is confirmed in police documents. Then a DRE, or drug recognition expert officer, was called in. blood was drawn for more tests.
"After he did all the tests, he says, 'I would never have arrested you. You show no signs of impairment,'" said Thornton.
And there in the departments own papers an officer further notes Jessie is not under the influence, and the blood results, all negative and charged with DUI, car impounded and MVD notified to suspend his license. Thornton and his attorney, Marc Victor don't call it DUI.
"Driving while black," said Victor. "It's just not the way American citizens ought to be treated by police officers."
The charge was recently dropped and Victor and his team are now eyeing a federal lawsuit and filed a notice of claim for $500,000.
"He's being harassed for no reason other than the color of his skin. It's frustrating that somebody has to go through this type of experience," said attorney Charity Clark.
Thornton's daughter, who is in law enforcement, has filed a complaint as well.
"I don't want anybody else to go through this," said Thornton.
He did have that scheduled hip replacement surgery a few days after the arrest.