BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. – A veteran communications contractor with Cape Canaveral Air Force Station is suing Brevard County Sheriff Wayne Ivey and a former county deputy for false arrest and false imprisonment in connection with a late-night drug arrest.
Lee Edward Anderson, an African-American, told News 6 he is convinced he was arrested for the way he looked when deputy Zachary Ferreira detained him first for a faulty tag light and then possession of crack cocaine and drug paraphernalia on Jan. 29, 2018.
“This isn’t supposed to happen in America,” Anderson said. “I was in the wrong place, wrong time, right color.”
According to the probable cause affidavit, Ferriera spotted a “clear plastic bag“ tossed from Anderson’s front passenger window as he followed him past Endeavor Elementary School on Pineda Street in Cocoa.
The evidence photo shows two crack cocaine rocks were tested and confirmed at the scene of the arrest.
Anderson was stopped shortly before 11 p.m. and arrested 24 minutes later.
He said he was passing time before his midnight shift at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.
“In my opinion, he saw me as a crime,” Anderson said. “And he was going to arrest me no matter what.”
Records show Anderson has no criminal history and holds secret security clearance with the Department of Defense.
According to his attorney, his security status was interrupted because of the arrest but he has since been reinstated to full security clearance.
Titusville attorney Daniel Faherty accompanied Anderson for an interview at the News 6 studios last week.
He said he reviewed the entire video and found no evidence of faulty tag lights or drugs.
The dash camera video shows back-up deputies on scene conducting a full sweep of the trunk, the car interior and Anderson’s briefcase.
K-9 dogs were never used to sweep the car.
“None of this makes sense,” Faherty said. “ There was no tag light out, there was no baggie thrown from his car.”
Faherty named Ivey in his capacity as sheriff and Ferreira in a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court on Oct. 22.
“In our opinion, it was a completely illegal stop," he said. “We are looking for the damages to his civil rights: Unlawful stop, unlawful search of his vehicle and his unlawful arrest, detention and incarceration.”
The Brevard County State Attorney’s Office said probable cause for the stop and arrest did exist.
However, the evidence failed to meet the standard to bring the case to trial and the charges were dropped the next month.
In a statement to News 6, the state attorney said, in part:
“This case underwent a careful and thorough review by experienced prosecutors to determine if they reasonably believed the alleged crime could be proven beyond a reasonable doubt at trial. When that process found the required evidence was not sufficient, prosecutors were ethically and legally obligated not to pursue prosecution of the defendant.”
Ivey has declined comment because of the ongoing litigation.
Ferreira has since left the sheriff’s department.