GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. — A Gwinnett County woman has filed a lawsuit, claiming a police officer faked her drug arrest on a national TV show.
She accuses the officer of planting suspected cocaine to show off for the cameras.
The woman’s attorney told Channel 2’s Carl Willis she doesn’t feel safe in Gwinnett County anymore.
“Her life has simply been destroyed,” said attorney John Burdges.
Burdges is accusing Gwinnett County police officers of setting up his client, Elizabeth Butler, by framing her for the cameras during an unexpected appearance on the TV show COPS in 2013.
It was an arrest that Burdges says soiled her reputation and left a video clip that he says continues to defame her.
“It’s well over 33,000 hits. What’s really damaging is the officer’s statements on the video,” Burdges said.
The video shows Gwinnett County Police Officer Paul Tremblay talking about Butler’s marijuana leaf tattoo and the tattoo of a Grateful Dead bear on her foot.
“That is consistent for some drug users,” Tremblay said on the video
But it’s during a narcotics test that Burdges accuses Tremblay of planting cocaine.
“That would be cocaine. That’s positive for cocaine,” Tremblay said on the video.
“This was the result of first test. It was pink. There is no drugs in this test,” Burdges told Willis.
Burdges said there is unedited video that shows the officer going to the trunk of his squad car to get a second test kit.
“We submit that the test was turned positive, because the only person that possessed cocaine that night was the officer,” Burdges said.
Burdges believes the officer and the production team behind COPS knew full well Butler and her friend didn’t have drugs.
“Now she’s tarnished for life,” Burdges said. “I think the officer had the drugs.”
Butler’s possession charge was later dropped after testing by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation found no drugs.
She’s seeking a trial and damages.
The police department declined to comment, due to the pending lawsuit.