Black Man Cited for DUI After Zero Drinks; Police Chief Urges Public "Keep an Open Mind"

A Black man has filed a lawsuit against the City of Surprise, alleging that being cited for DUI with zero alcohol in his system was more like being cited for DWB -- Driving While Black.

Surprise Police Chief Michael Frazier has since issued a statement saying he couldn't go into specifics about the case since it's a pending legal matter, but urged the public to "keep an open mind [and] withhold judgment."

Fitting advice, given the alleged circumstances.

The Black man, Jessie Thornton, has been making local media rounds with his attorney, Marc Victor -- the former Libertarian candidate for U.S. Senate, and attorney for the mother of "Baby Gabriel," among other high-profile clients -- claiming there's certainly no reason Thornton should have ever been cited for DUI, and suggesting that race is possibly a factor.

While Thornton was cited, the charge was dismissed by city prosecutors once blood results came back, according to Chief Frazier.

The circumstances surrounding the retired firefighter's arrest certainly don't look pretty for the city.

Thornton -- who has adjusted his sleep schedule to fit the nighttime shifts of his wife, an ER nurse -- was pulled over late last year for crossing the white line in his lane, according to police documents obtained by a local TV station.

Thornton was accused of driving under the influence, he told the station. When the officer accused him of having bloodshot eyes, he didn't disagree, saying he just got done swimming at LA Fitness.

He eventually blew a .000 on the breathalyzer, but there was still a DUI citation issued against him.

Chief Frazier's statement urged that DUI results are not immediately available, although you'd think that the .000 result would be an indication that the guy's not driving slammed.

Frazier called this an example of "how easy it can be to get the wrong impression of what has happened, and adds that more documentation will be released in the case, saying that "the facts will emerge."

Thornton told ABC 15 this was the 10th time he'd been pulled over in Surprise. He's seeking $500,000 from the city.

"Whenever anyone thinks they have been unfairly treated, I insist on knowing about it," Frazier said. "Our record shows that we investigate and respond appropriately. That will never change."

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Matthew Hendley
Contact: Matthew Hendley