An Iowa police chief is apologizing after a video surfaced showing an officer trying to search a motorist’s car because, according to the officer, everyone who plays Frisbee golf smokes pot.
The video, which was taken by the motorist, starts with the officer giving that unknown motorist a warning about driving without headlights.
Then the officer begins his interrogation.
Drake Law Professor Robert Rigg said the officer broke the law by trying to search the car during an equipment violation stop.
“What the officer did after that was try to extend that stop into a general search of the defendant’s car or the individual’s car; that’s not permissible anymore,” Rigg said.
He added that if the driver had allowed the officer to search the car, and the officer found something illegal, it’s likely that evidence would be thrown out of court.
“The Iowa Supreme Court has held that under the Iowa constitution you can’t convert an equipment violation stop into a general search and any consent that would have been given would have been invalid in any event,” he said.
The city of Ankeny released a statement saying, in part, “The officer engages the driver in a line of questioning that is foolish and not representative of the Ankeny Police Department’s training or interactions with the public. This verbal exchange did not meet the level of professionalism expected of Ankeny police officers. Ankeny Police Chief Gary Mikulec respectfully apologizes for the officer`s demeaning statement.”
As for the motorist, Rigg said, “I think the young man did exactly what he was supposed to do. He did not admit to smoking marijuana. He didn’t answer that question at all and he has the right not to answer that question. And he has the right to say, ‘Look, if you want to ask me questions, why don’t you call my lawyer.'”
October 10, 2014