A Pennsylvania woman is fighting for justice and has filed a civil rights federal lawsuit after she was falsely identified, arrested, and charged in a heroin bust, even though she is a completely different race than the perpetrator caught on tape.
Jada Noone, a 22-year-old Black woman, was arrested on May 30, 2017, and spent a total of 15 days in the Luzerne County Jail, according to The Appeal. Noone was charged with felony possession with intent to deliver and has spent countless hours in litigation over her case. Prior to her arrest she had no prior convictions.
The strange turn of events occurred when officers arranged to purchase the illegal substance from Noone’s former boyfriend, Akee Miller, on May 23, 2016.
According to a report made by State Trooper Scott Howell, who served as the arresting officer, investigators were able to make contact with Miller in order to purchase the drugs. But when officers arrived at the agreed upon location, a white woman showed up to deliver the heroin, who Howell identified as Noone. The encounter was also caught on an undercover surveillance tape.
The woman in the video and described in the police affidavit had crooked teeth, bright pink/red hair, and a chest tattoo. Noone is Black with brown skin and dark hair. She also does not have a chest tattoo. The comparisons would be laughable if a young woman’s life wasn’t ultimately affected by this tragedy.
A year after the heroin bust, Noone was arrested with bail set at $75,000, but was later released on unsecured bail on June 15, 2017. Her attorney Theron Solomon told the outlet that she agreed to waive her preliminary hearing in order to have her bail reduced under the instruction of public defenders who represented Noone during her initial trial.
In an interview with The Citizen’s Voice, Noone said she believes police pinned her as a culprit because Miller, her child’s father, sent a text to officers saying that he would arrange for “my girl to meet you.”
“She looks absolutely northing like me at all,” Noone said. “They still knew this and they still tried to get me to plead guilty to a misdemeanor. I was scared that I was going to go to jail for this, and I had absolutely nothing to do with it.”
One year later, at the urging of Solomon, Noone’s case was dismissed and all charges were dropped on June 11, 2018.
But the acting state Deputy Attorney General, Daniel Gallagher, and Trooper Howell are adamant that she is the woman on tape.
In a response filed to the federal suit, Gallagher argued that while Noone’s physical descriptions do not match the woman on tape, he couldn’t be sure that she did not alter her appearance between the time of the bust and the time of her arrest.
Miller, Noone’s ex, was arrested on July 17, 2018 and pled guilty to felony possession with intent to deliver and felony carrying a firearm without a license in connection. He was sentenced to two years in jail, and seven years’ probation.
Solomon said he was able to identify the actual woman in the surveillance video but she has yet to be charged.
Noone’s case points the alarming rise of the Black female jail population, where women are jailed and harshly prosecuted as first time offenders, or in Noone’s case, for their proximity to an illegal action. Her case also serves to show the daunting horrors of the justice system that continuously fails communities of color.