Man's purchase of cold medicine could cost Metro $2M

Tuesday, November 20, 2012 at 12:50am

When Jackie Cross went to a Walmart in West Nashville on Feb. 13, 2011, all he wanted was a pack of Sudafed to treat a cold. But that transaction was only the beginning of his headaches.

Months later, Cross found his name on a list of 39 alleged felons indicted by a Davidson County grand jury as part of “Operation Death Cooker” — a bust of methamphetamine pushers.

The charges were eventually dismissed, but now Cross is taking the Metro Nashville Police Department to federal court, claiming $2 million in various damages for the erroneous indictment.

As it turns out, Cross’ indictment was the result of unfortunate timing.

Police were investigating Shane Oakley, 31, and Teresa Kingsmill, 40, as the suspected leaders of a meth manufacturing ring. As part of the conspiracy, Kingsmill would drop various people off at pharmacies to purchase over-the-counter drugs containing pseudoephedrine, an ingredient in meth.

That was the case on Feb. 13, 2011, when Kingsmill allegedly dropped off four males to make Sudafed purchases at the same Walmart where Cross was shopping.

Police records indicate other suspects purchased packets of off-brand “Suphed” at 11:18 a.m., 11:24 a.m., 11:28 a.m. and 11:33 a.m. Cross walked up to the counter and bought Sudafed at 11:26, thus putting him in the investigators’ sights.

The lawsuit maintains there was no evidence connecting Cross to the crime committed. In addition, Cross purchased 30 mg tablets instead of the more potent 120 mg tablets acquired by the alleged felons.

MNPD detective William Loucks presented evidence to the grand jury on Nov. 11, 2011, and they returned a criminal indictment against Cross and 38 other suspects.

In a press release on Nov. 22, 2011, police called the indictment their “largest meth investigation to date.”

According to the lawsuit: “Defendants ... negligently or intentionally ignored the lack of incriminating evidence, the exculpating pharmacy record, and failed to interview Mr. Cross and/or to conduct any other appropriate investigation regarding him.”

Cross turned himself in to police on Nov. 28, 2011, and he was jailed until he posted $40,000 bond. After the “wrongful indictment” was brought to the district attorney’s attention, the charges were “nollied” — meaning Cross would not be prosecuted but the charges could still be brought before a grand jury again.

But damage had already been done.

The lawsuit says the mistaken charges caused Cross to lose his job with Metro schools and caused irreparable damage to his marriage. Because of his lower standard of living, Cross is now unable to afford his diabetes medication, the suit asserts. An investigation into a complaint filed with the MNPD’s Office of Professional Accountability found that Cross was implicated as a subject after Kingsmill told authorities that she also hired a white couple to buy Sudafed. However, when she was shown a picture of Cross, Kingsmill stated “that she wasn’t sure [of his involvement] but didn’t want to get anyone in trouble,” according to the complaint investigation.

But MNPD found no wrongdoing on behalf of Loucks. Instead, the investigation into the complaint pinned the mix-up on the Davidson County District Attorney’s Office, that was “in charge of preparing the indictments,” a police report said.

The lawsuit asks for damages related to constitutional violations, defamation, false light, false imprisonment and the malicious or wrongful prosecution of Cross.

Federal court rules prevent the parties from speaking to the media about the case during litigation.

Metro attorneys have until Dec. 18 to file their response to the suit. Cross doesn’t name the DA’s Office in the lawsuit.

15 Comments on this post:

By: GuardianDevil01 on 11/20/12 at 4:32

I hope this man wins and wins big. The government has no business monitoring the purchase of cold medicine. Stupid people will always find ways to poison themselves and we should not attempt to make it more difficult for them to do so.

By: Ask01 on 11/20/12 at 5:49

More evidence our so called 'justice' system in not, after all, about true justice, but rather a game to see who can arrest the most people, successfully prosecute the most people, and secure the most sustained sentences.

I fully agree this man should win big. After all, Mayor Dean and Metro Council would just squander the money on health insurance for council members, grandiose ego building projects, and corporate welfare for businesses.

By: Badbob on 11/20/12 at 7:04

We really expect more of our police, district attorney and the grand jury. There are at least 20 people who dropped the ball... well, we don't know how many people voiced their opinion that this was not right. And... how could the judge set a $40,000 bond based on such flimsy evidence? $2 million is not enough punishment for such behavior.

By: donsan on 11/20/12 at 7:07

It kinda upsets me each time I need to purchase a cold or allergy medicine to have to go thru this stuff. I guess in this country anymore that everybody is guilty til they prove themselves innocent. Except our politians and they are always innocent.

By: Rocket99 on 11/20/12 at 8:08

So, let's see. The person had a cold, went to Wal Mart, and legally purchased over the counter medicine. For this he was arrested and had to post a $40,000 bond.

What's wrong with this picture? He did nothing wrong yet, he lost his job and was jailed. Metro needs to pay BIG TIME and give him the job back with back pay. They also need to reexamine what and how they do things.

Ask01 needs to take his/her head out if it's butt and comment on the topic instead of adding useless commentary.

By: daytonsdarwin on 11/20/12 at 8:12

I'm surprised the Swat Team didn't break down his door after surrounding his house with tanks, cannons, and fighter jets for purchasing cold medication.

That's the war on drugs for you. Law enforcement has a vested interested in keeping it going so they can continue to militarize, play army, and take down those marijuana smokers who threaten this countries' children, elderly, and small animals.

By: BigPapa on 11/20/12 at 8:41

Here's your "war on drugs"

By: Chris72 on 11/20/12 at 9:16

Good for him and I hope he wins! I've always had sinus and allergy problems. Grew up using Sudafed. The stuff out now is junk and doesn't do a thing for me. While I understand to a point why they have the new "system" in place, it's obviously not working. Quick check at all the meth labs getting busted is one clue. I don't buy the stuff that often, due to these "restrictions" and not wanting to make the cut on some govt list, but the last time I did was at the Lafayette Walmart. That pharmacist was an absolute ahole to me. I'm standing there with my eyes watering and it was obvious I was stuffed up when I talked and coughed, and he's looking at me and treating me like I'm a freaking criminal. War on drugs? It's a joke. Just a term for the politicians and such to toss around to scare folks and get money and elected.

@Donsan, innocent until proven guilty? Nah, that idea hasn't existed for a long time.

By: govskeptic on 11/20/12 at 10:52

Just goes to show how very very true the ole statement is: "You can
indict a Ham Sandwich". For those that don't know, the Grand Jury
Foremen are picked by a Judge and serve on each grand jury meeting
sometimes for years. They quickly become, not an independent, but
just an extension of the Attorney General's corp and lead the remaining
jurors to indict about anyone whose case is presented before them.
Maybe this, often injustice, coziness will become a part of the trial.

By: BenDover on 11/20/12 at 11:16

I think metro's got a $250,000 cap on liability. Not sure if it applies here.

By: Loner on 11/20/12 at 1:03

Professional zealots in the "drug war" got a little too zealous and the man suffered damages....I hope that he gets all 2 million.

By: TITAN1 on 11/20/12 at 2:04

If these are the facts, sounds like he has a case, but don't stop the war on drugs over a mistake. The more drugs and scum off the street, the better.

By: left on 11/20/12 at 5:14

The most he can get is $350,000.

By: Ask01 on 11/20/12 at 6:03

Rocket99, I realize your comprehension is woefully lacking, but I did comment on the situation. The commentary, I believe, pretty well outlines my opinion of how the situation came to develop. That being corrupt, incompetent people in the alleged justice system from the cop on the beat to the judge on the bench.

If you wish to comment on the my suggestion of undertrained overzealous cops, prosecutors, and judges because you perhaps feel threatened, then say so outright, don't just pick some pointless notion.

I suggest you cure your own rectal cranial inversion before groundlessly accusing others of some impropriety in posting.

By: sonny1024 on 11/21/12 at 5:37

It's not the first time something like this had happened and it want to be the last. until someone loses their job this will continue to happen.The smaller tn towns have it worse because the police control the grand juries and 99% of all cases heard come back with a true bill.One case involved a man who happen to have the same name as the man who was supposed to be indicted this poor guy spent nine months in the county jail lost his job of 18 years and his wife divorced him and all he got was I AM SORRY from the DA and the sheriff a fingerprint check comparison wasn't done to clear up the mess because the sheriff's office said they had the right man.