A woman is suing a Tennessee State Highway Patrol officer after she was fired from her job following being charged with drug-related felonies despite the substance in question being legal, state-licensed, hemp, according to a Law360 report.
Rose M. Hembrook’s lawsuit against Trooper Donald Seiber states that the officer charged her with felony possession of marijuana with intent to distribute, sell or manufacture following a traffic stop in September 2019. During the stop, Hembrook provided the officer with hemp permits from the Tennessee Department of Agriculture and six certificates of analysis from a private laboratory. During the stop – for seatbelt and moving violations – two sheriff’s deputies also explained to Seiber that the farm had been investigated and the hemp permits were legitimate and in order.
“Trooper Seiber failed to examine and willfully ignored the readily available exculpatory evidence presented by both Ms. Hembrook and the two sheriff’s deputies. The exculpatory evidence provided to Trooper Seiber defeats any probable cause he had to arrest Ms. Hembrook.” – Hembrook’s attorneys in the complaint
In March, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation submitted its own forensic chemistry report to Seiber stating that the substance was hemp. That month Seiber initiated another traffic stop and, in her complaint, Hembrook said she pulled into an auto shop and ran into the building, calling for help and demanding another officer be called in. The complaint says during that stop she was harassed and intimidated before being placed under arrest for evading, resisting, and disorderly conduct.
All charges stemming from both cases were dropped in July.
Hembrook is suing for two counts of false arrest and two counts of malicious prosecution. She is seeking punitive and compensatory damages, pre- and post-judgment interest, attorney fees and litigation costs, and a judgment that Seiber violated her constitutional rights.