Court Tells Lying Cops That Someone Asserting Their Rights Isn't 'Reasonably Suspicious'
from the but-for-video dept
A couple of lying cops who couldn’t perform a traffic stop without violating the driver’s rights have just seen their illegally-obtained evidence tossed and their successful drug bust busted. The Louisiana Second Circuit Court of Appeal not only finds the officers untrustworthy but also points out there’s nothing reasonably suspicious about someone’s invocation of their rights.
The traffic stop that resulted in the discovery of methamphetamines was clearly pretextual. There’s nothing legally wrong with using traffic stops to engage in other investigations, but officers must have the reasonable suspicion to navigate away from the initial purpose of the stop. The Supreme Court’s Rodriguez decision removed a lot of the leeway law enforcement officers have exploited for years.
This stop began with the accusation that the car’s driver, Michael Glen Robinson, was failing to stay in his own lane. Robinson’s driving was recorded by the officer’s dash cam, along with the entire traffic stop. The court says it’s not clear Robinson actually violated the law. From the decision [PDF]:
On two occasions, Robinson’s truck can be seen to drift toward the boundary of his lane, perhaps so far as his vehicle’s tires touching the lines marking the boundaries of the lane within less than a minute. The video does not definitively establish that Robinson crossed the boundary line.
The appeals court isn’t willing to overturn the stop itself. But it has nothing good to say about the officers whose testimony was repeatedly contradicted by their dashcam recordings.
It all starts here, with the usual cop claim that the person they stopped seemed nervous.
Officer Lavrinc testified that, at this point, he tried to engage Robinson in conversation to ascertain if Robinson was intoxicated. Officer Lavrinc testified that Robinson’s “mannerisms and his demeanor were a little more intensified than that of somebody on most of the traffic stops of minor traffic violations,” and that Robinson started to get a little agitated and his carotid artery was pulsing “extremely hard.” He also stated that Robinson was sweating, his hands were shaking, and that the more he (Officer Lavrinc) spoke with Robinson, the more irritated and agitated Robinson became.
But that testimony is contradicted by the officers’ recordings:
Officer Lavrinc then asked where they were headed to, and Robinson replied “to visit a friend.” Robinson then indicated he was not able to produce his current insurance card, and asked Officer Lavrinc, “What did I do wrong?” Officer Lavrinc explained that he observed Robinson “riding the line” a couple of times and asked whether Robinson had been drinking, which Robinson denied, stating “No, sir.” Thus far in the interaction, Robinson’s voice did not sound agitated or nervous.
When other officers arrived as backup, Officer Lavrinc returned to Robinson’s truck, and had Robinson step out of his truck and put his hands on it. Officer Lavrinc conducted a Terry frisk of Robinson, and Robinson asked what the officer was doing. Robinson’s voice did not sound agitated, irritated, or nervous at any point thus far either.
The video then shows Robinson leaning against the hood of Officer Lavrinc’s patrol unit and talking with Officer Lavrinc. Robinson asked “What’s the problem?” Again, his tone of voice did not sound particularly nervous or irritated.
Robinson was also calm when he exercised his right to be free of unreasonable searches.
After explaining why he had Robinson get out of his truck, Officer Lavrinc asked whether there were any “guns, knives, bombs, [or] open containers” in the truck, which Robinson denied. Officer Lavrinc retorted, “So then you don’t mind if I take a look in the truck?” Robinson denied consent to search the vehicle, stating “You don’t need to take a look in the truck.” Again, at this point Robinson still did not seem particularly agitated or nervous.
And there are more lies:
According to Officer Lavrinc’s testimony, around this time, he conducted a standard horizontal gaze nystagmus (“HGN”) test on Robinson, seeking to detect signs of intoxication. Essentially, Officer Lavrinc testified that an HGN test is conducted by holding an object in front of the subject’s face and moving it back and forth horizontally, and that he conducted the test on Robinson using a pen tipped with a blue light. Officer Lavrinc detected no indication that Robinson was intoxicated. Contrary to this testimony, Officer Lavrinc never did an HGN field sobriety test on Robinson on camera, and Robinson never left the view of the dashboard camera video from Officer Lavrinc’s patrol unit at any relevant time.
And the search Robinson never consented to occurred anyway.
Meanwhile, Officer Hackett, who had initially walked over with Officer Shane Griffith to Robinson’s location, went to the passenger side window of Robinson’s truck and leaned his head through the window and reached in with his arm. He leaned in far enough that the sole of one of his feet came off the ground as he did so, and the illuminated flashlight in his hand can be seen well inside the truck.
The officer said this was “plain view” when it clearly wasn’t. He was far inside the vehicle when he saw the baggie. The baggie held Robinson’s insurance card. Officer Lavrinc apparently felt this was the probable cause he needed to perform a more thorough search of the truck.
Without first asking Officer Hackett whether he had already grabbed the bag and looked at it, Officer Lavrinc entered Robinson’s truck through the driver’s side door and, after searching for a short amount of time, found marijuana in the center console.
The court says none of these justifications add up.
Moments later, Officer Lavrinc returned from searching Robinson’s truck and announced that he had found marijuana. He placed Robinson and Jones under arrest, and then the officers further searched the truck and discovered the methamphetamine. However, the plastic baggie containing Robinson’s insurance card was not seized or placed in evidence, despite the fact that the officers attempted to justify the protective search in part based on the presence of the baggie in Robinson’s truck. Thus, Officer Hackett must have known that it did not contain drugs prior to Officer Lavrinc’s protective search.
The court says neither officer is credible. Their testimony is contradicted several times by the recording.
Officer Lavrinc’s testimony that he performed an HGN field sobriety test on Robinson irreconcilably contradicts the video/audio recording from his dash camera and body microphone. His testimony regarding the actions he took after Officer Hackett informed him about the plastic baggie also appears to contradict the dash camera video. Additionally, his testimony regarding his suspicion that there were drugs and weapons in the vehicle is internally inconsistent and implausible on its face.
Lavrinc’s testimony was about 90% lies and 10% logical inconsistencies.
In summary, Officer Lavrinc testified that he suspected Robinson was intoxicated, and that he believed he had reasonable suspicion that there were drugs and weapons in Robinson’s truck. Nonetheless, Officer Lavrinc testified that he was planning to release Robinson and Jones to go free in Robinson’s truck – but only after he searched the truck for a weapon to ensure the officers’ safety upon releasing Robinson and Jones. This is inconsistent, illogical and implausible. If Officer Lavrinc believed he had reasonable suspicion that Robinson was driving while intoxicated and carrying illegal drugs, why would he plan to release Robinson (to drive away in his truck) without conducting a dog sniff or a field sobriety test?
And Officer Hackett is no better. His “plain view” assertions are contradicted by his actions and statements, which were all caught on camera.
In the audio recording integrated with his police vehicle’s dashboard camera video, Officer Hackett admitted that he reached in the truck and grabbed the clear plastic bag containing Robinson’s insurance or vehicle registration to check and see if it contained illegal drugs.
This in itself constituted a warrantless search of Robinson’s truck, not a “plain view look” as Officer Hackett testified. Officer Hackett even went as far as attesting specifically that he was not searching the vehicle at this point. Finally, in glaring contradiction to his statement recorded live at the scene of the incident, he also testified that he did not touch the plastic baggie.
Cue benchslap — one that hits Officer Hackett hard enough the trial court can feel it.
Based on this testimony in direct contradiction to the video/audio recordings from the incident, we conclude that Officer Hackett’s testimony is incredible in its entirety. The trial court committed manifest error to the extent it relied on Officer Hackett’s testimony in denying the motion to suppress.
Finally, the court says someone’s insistence that their rights be respected cannot be viewed as “suspicious.”
In light of these facts, and the officers’ lack of credibility, these characterizations provide no support for a finding of reasonable suspicion. Indeed, La. C.Cr.P. art. 218.1, supra, commands police officers, upon detaining a citizen in connection with the investigation or commission of any offense, to fully advise the detained citizen of the reason for the detention. It is a corollary that a citizen has the right to ask for a full explanation of why he is being detained. As a matter of law, the officers’ characterizations of Robinson’s requests for this explanation cannot serve as a basis for reasonable suspicion. The same is true of Robinson’s refusal to consent to a search of his truck, and his objection to Officer Hackett’s unconstitutional search of the truck.
And with that, all the evidence is gone. The suppression motion is granted and these two lying cops are left empty-handed. One would hope this would encourage them to be better cops and respect the rights of citizens. But it will probably only deter them from activating their cameras during roadside fishing expeditions.
Filed Under: invoking rights, lying, police, reasonable suspicion
Comments on “Court Tells Lying Cops That Someone Asserting Their Rights Isn't 'Reasonably Suspicious'”
The peoblem is other than a rebuke of words, there seems to be no punitive meadures taken on the cops or police in general so bothing is dissuading them from trying this again
This. Perjury is supposedly illegal. So why is it that cops can get caught lying under oath and the court just shrugs?
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"This. Perjury is supposedly illegal. So why is it that cops can get caught lying under oath and the court just shrugs?"
The one who writes up prosecution for criminal court cases is the district attorney, usually.
Said DA is almost completely reliant on the goodwill of the police force so it takes a monumental whopper by a LEO before a DA feels the political cost of raising the court case is less than the cost not to.
In the US if the opposition in the next election can use "on the side of criminals" in their mudslinging it’s usually safe to say the incumbent will be SOL at the ballots.
In theory it’s possible to censure a DA for not doing his/her job but in practice that legal option has rarely been invoked and almost never successful.
Re: Re: Unsure
I would say that the judges and courts who take a wrong (such as a cop lying) trying to turn that wrong into a right should be prosecuted themselves. You got to be nuts as well as wrong if you think you can turn a wrong into a right or vice versa.
Why isn’t Officer Hackett in jail for perjury?
This decision was from a court of appeals, and the case was remanded back to the trial court for "further proceedings". It ain’t over. Now whether the trial court has the chutzpah to charge the officers for the perjury they failed to recognize the first time around remains a question. Somehow I doubt they will because to do so would further demonstrate their lacking at their first attempt.
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The appeals court is perfectly capable of issuing an arrest warrant for perjury committed before the appeals court itself. The evidence required to do so is a lesser amount than the evidence required to issue their ruling overturning the trial court!
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Stop being silly. No perjury is committed before an appeals court, which is merely reviewing what is commonly called “the cold record” consisting of things filed or said in the trial court.
That is pretty much embedded in the idea of an appeal.
When these pigs are caught in a LIE(s) they need to be thrown into JAIL for a year. if you can’t trust what the police say, then what? At this point in time, I’d trust a criminal more than the police these days. Since I really don’t trust criminals, I really don’t trust the police either. They lie, lie, lie!!!! They know they can get away with it. They can plant drugs on you and get away with it. Even get caught and nothing will happen to them. They can screw your whole life up from the lies their tell, pulled out of thin air.
The police suspected Robinson possessed illegal drugs. He had methamphetamine. Meth is an illegal drug, so he was arrested. Problem?
If what you say is true then of course there is a problem because he will be let go now that all the evidence is thrown out. If the police had done their damn job right he could be convicted.
Cops performing unconstitutional searches means criminals go free and innocents are harassed, what part of that is confusing?
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Based on my training and experience, I know that posters of inflammatory and idiotic comments are often trolls. I therefore have a reasonable suspicion that you are a troll.
If you persist in this behavior, I will have probable cause to believe that you are a troll. My training and experience, trolls lurk under bridges and eat children. Based on my awareness that you are a troll, I will fear for my safety and may be forced to discharge my weapon.
If you persist in this course of action, I cannot be responsible for the consequences of your behavior.
This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it.
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You say your training and experience, Trolls lurk under bridges and eat children! Just because you spent it appears an enormousamount of time in front of ATV for a trainer you would be better off reading the best manual the world has for life’s problems The Bible Come on get real !! I looked up the definition of Trolls in Webster’s it says nothing of the sort about Trolls lurking under bridges and eating children.#1 Definition:: a dwarf or giant in Scandinavian FOLKLORE inhabiting caves or hills. ( Not Children ) Live by the sword die by the sword! Mt 26:52 – For the Word of God is alive and exerts power and is sharper than any two-edged sword and Pierce’s even to the dividing of soul and spirit and of joints from the marrow,and is able to discern thoughts and intentions of the heart. Heb: 4:12-13 Brother: let Goes word be your wepon!
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you would be better off reading the best manual the world has for life’s problems The Bible
Oh, I love it when morons come here and tell me what wonderful moral guide the bible is. I typically respond with quotes from it like below, where god is apparently one pissed off little asshole, deserving of neither love nor respect.
"See, the day of the Lord is coming — a cruel day, with wrath and fierce anger. . . . I will put an end to the arrogance of the haughty. . . . Their infants will be dashed to pieces before their eyes; their houses will be looted and their wives violated." (Isaiah 13:9–16 )
"And if ye will not for all this hearken unto me, but walk contrary unto me; Then I will walk contrary unto you also in fury; and I, even I, will chastise you seven times for your sins. And ye shall eat the flesh of your sons, and the flesh of your daughters shall ye eat." (Leviticus 26:27–29)
If this is what your bible teaches, then I’d postulate your god is a horrible piece of shit.
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"…you would be better off reading the best manual the world has for life’s problems The Bible…"
A book which teaches us that in times of fiscal crisis it’s a good idea to sell the youngest child to traffickers, that if you really can’t find a new woman after your wife leaves you, your daughters will do just as well, and that people who don’t worship the same deity you do need to be slaughtered, having all men and male children killed and all women forcibly taken. THAT book?
The most ironic part of that book would be the one where that carpenter’s son walks around in a lifestyle soundly condemning almost every aspect of american society.
Nothing like a raging hypocrite to bring things into that proper perspective…
So it is ok to stop and search 99 innocent people on the basis that 1 will be in possession of illegal drugs. Right? Just because they found drugs this time does not indicate how many times they did not. A stopped clock……..etc.
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By the same logic, it’s lawful to disobey a uniformed cop, or even to use violence against one if he gets pushy, because some small percentage of the people making traffic stops are police impersonators.
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"By the same logic, it’s lawful to disobey a uniformed cop, or even to use violence against one if he gets pushy, because some small percentage of the people making traffic stops are police impersonators."
Let’s not forget that some people are wearing suicide bomb belts and, using the logic apparently employed here, it now makes perfect sense to shoot every human you see wearing a zipped-up jacket or bulky sweater in the head.
Civil rights violations are still civil rights violations even if they uncovered a crime. The police don’t — and shouldn’t — deserve a reward for getting the “right” result in the wrongest way possible.
Well yeah, dumbass. He was let go because the cops are a couple of fuck-ups.
Had they done their job right, he might be in jail.
They were paid by the public’s tax dollars to essentially be fuck-ups at work.
So yeah – Problem.
Re: "found" drugs in the vehicle
It is entirely possible that the drugs "found" in the vehicle came from a different source. While I would be happy if all non-medical meth ( https://www.webmd.com/drugs/2/drug-8676/methamphetamine-oral/details) disappeared from the planet, we see too many cases of drugs being planted. So it is not obvious that Robinson possessed the drugs at all.
If the officers’ testimony contradicts the recordings, then they lack credibility concerning the presence of drugs in the vehicle, and how it got there.
The people who violated someone’s 4th-amendment rights are not behind bars.
I’ll repeat what I stated in another post:
(tldr version: if you deny criminals their rights, you don’t have any either.)
This is a common problem: people, like you, saying in one form or another that criminals shouldn’t have rights. That catching them is the end that justifies the means.
What they don’t see is that, if criminals don’t have rights, neither do innocents. How does a cop know that some guy is a criminal before abusing his rights? Answer is: he doesn’t. The only reason you don’t hear daily about innocent people getting the same kind of treatment is that most innocent people don’t care about suing a cop that let them go (eventually). They have other things to do with their lives, time and money than suing cops.
But there are cases of cops acting this way with harmful – up to downright lethal – consequences for innocent people. Read about people getting shot for having a gun they never really had, or getting abusive physical examinations (up to repeated cavity searches) looking for drugs they never had… and more. Lots more.
Once again, do not deny criminals their rights or do not expect to have any right either. Your legal system cannot select who gets to enjoy their rights. If it does, you’re in a police state with all the negative meanings behind it.
Re: Anonymous comment - 'nothing to hide'
Problem? I’m a cop, and I ‘suspect’ that you have illegal drugs and weapons in your home. So I break down the door without a warrant, and lo and behold, I don’t find any drugs or weapons. Too bad about your door, you behave now, you hear?!
If you ignore the rights afforded someone because upon ignoring their rights, you discover they are a criminal, based on groundless suspicions, then you are approving ignoring -everyone’s- rights, so the search for criminals can go on. If you want -your- rights protected, you have to defend those rights for "criminals" too… whether you break any laws or not. And if we look hard enough, I’m sure we can find -something- to take offense to about you. Without rights, we can look as long and as hard as we want, without you having any recourse. "If you have nothing to hide…" protect the rights of those who do, or you have no rights, either.
Re: Re: Anonymous comment - 'nothing to hide'
"So I break down the door without a warrant, and lo and behold, I don’t find any drugs or weapons. Too bad about your door, you behave now, you hear?!"
And having busted the door and not being in the mood to get chewed out by the chief over another complaint you might as well drop a bag of angel dust in the fishbowl and pretend you found it, as we’ve seen confirmed to happen quite a lot recently.
Even better if the guy whose door you busted down was holding a remote control, banana, or anything other vaguely weapon-shaped in their hands. A corpse, after all, can’t complain. I wish we hadn’t seen all too much of this happening as well.
They violated his civil rights.
Committed the crime of perjury.
Wasted everyone’s time and money.
Illustrated that police aren’t trustworthy.
I think that covers it all.
"He had methamphetamine. Meth is an illegal drug, so he was arrested. Problem?"
Problem being that the police officers were in violation of the law when they searched and arrested the perpetrator.
So the reality is that the entire case has become one where two criminals drag another alleged criminal to court and claim they’ve made a legitimate arrest. Having been caught lying through their teeth about how their search and arrest went down, it’s no longer clear that the meth wasn’t also planted by the verified liars making the unlawful arrest.
Yes, there’s a problem when law enforcement perform manifestly illegal searches and then lie to judges about how their "drug bust" went down.
And in a civilized society if the evidence that a criminal has been found is not credible then the suspect must walk. It’s that simple, unless you’re living in a communist dictatorship where individual rights are considered unimportant.
You sound a bit like a right-winger, so i have to ask if you ever stopped to think about the collectivist claptrap you’re espousing where the rights of the individual is considered unimportant because it’s inconvenient to the state?
Re: Did they *not* suspect Robinson broke the law?
Again, the police suspected Robinson violated the law. Is that in question? Did they not suspect he violated the law?
If they suspected he did not violate the law, then they shouldn’t have pulled him over. But they did suspect he violated the law. When they pulled him over, they investigated and found that their suspicion was correct: he had violated the law.
This was not a situation where their suspicions were baseless, or where they planted evidence. Robinson inarguably violated the law.
Now, if you think drivers should be allowed to ignore traffic indicators, or that people should be allowed to possess crystal meth … then your gripe is with the politicians making said laws, not police enforcing them.
Re: Re: Did they *not* suspect Robinson broke the law?
"If they suspected he did not violate the law, then they shouldn’t have pulled him over. But they did suspect he violated the law. When they pulled him over, they investigated and found that their suspicion was correct: he had violated the law."
Are you pretending to be dense or just as dumb as you sound?
Let’s take it from the top, then – the police are not allowed to violate your civic rights just because they "suspect". Law enforcement officers are allowed to violate certain civic rights givben a stringent set of circumstances. "A hunch" is not among them.
"This was not a situation where their suspicions were baseless, or where they planted evidence. Robinson inarguably violated the law. "
And because the police officers fscked up, Robinson now walks away a free man. That, you see, is what happens when the police are too dumb to understand the laws they are supposed to uphold or how to perform a proper arrest.
"Now, if you think drivers should be allowed to ignore traffic indicators, or that people should be allowed to possess crystal meth … then your gripe is with the politicians making said laws, not police enforcing them."
That’s exactly how no one here thinks. Now, oncve again for the dumbass in the room – our gripe is STILL 100% with the police officers whose blunders have ensured that the guy possessing the meth and ignoring traffic rules will end up with a possible ticket for the latter and no penalty at all for the former.
In short, any sane man ought to gripe when the police clusterfscks their way into managing to set a man free who ought to go to jail. You, apparently, aren’t that sane.
When I read the headline, this exchange is the first thing that came to my mind:
LEO: "You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be provided for you. Do you understand the rights I have just read to you?"
Suspect: Yes, sir.
LEO: GOTCHA! GUILTY!!!!
Who you gonna believe?
The police officers’ sworn testimony, or the multiple police officers’ cameras’ lying eyes?
A baggie is a plastic bag. So keeping your documents clean and dry by putting them in a plastic bag is now probable cause (in an Officer’s mind)?
Re: A baggie?
Anything and everything is probable cause in an Officer’s Mind. Most of them have no idea why the 4th exists, no matter how much they think they love the Constitution.
Re: A baggie?
Driving to fast in suspicious. Driving to slow is suspicious. Driving at the speed limit is suspicious. Driving eastbound on the Freeway is suspicious. Driving westbound on the Freeway is suspicious.
All of the above from a single officer at various times.
So, really, anything at all is suspicious behavior if the cop wants it to be.
"One would hope this would encourage them to be better cops and respect the rights of citizens. But it will probably only deter them from activating their cameras during roadside fishing expeditions."
This is why charging lying officers with perjury isn’t just optimal, it is necessary. Police who lie to the public and to judges in official statements are criminals, and cannot be trusted to ever be act as anything but criminals. And they won’t reform, because in their minds it is all justified. In their minds, catching the meth user is all that matters ironically because he is a criminal, and they cannot conceive of the simple fact that in doing this they have become worse criminals.
"Police who lie to the public and to judges in official statements are criminals, and cannot be trusted to ever be act as anything but criminals."
Something which ironically the ironically self-described conservatives on the right wing keep failing to grasp. If the guy in the uniform has been caught lying to the judge and jury how do you know the found drugs weren’t similarly planted by the lying s.o.b.?
Last I checked, perjury was considered a worse crime than mere possession with intent to sell.
Why are police even allowed or given the ability to deactivate thier camera!? I assume because of the police unions who support immoral behavior and teach each officer how to lie and get away with literal murder at times. The power and blind trust given to police should be a crime in itself.
"He had methamphetamine. Meth is an illegal drug, so he was arrested. Problem?"
More proof of how the war on drugs has warped the Constitution beyond recognition. A legalistic crime by a morally innocent guy who harmed no one used to justify police lying under oath and violating his Constitutional right to reasonable search.
In a Constitutional government those who violate the Constitution are punished. In a police state those State actors who violate the Constitution are not held accountable. Accountable is not the court telling them they were bad boys and to be more careful next time they violate someones rights. The Bill of Rights has become little more than a document showing which rights the police can openly ignore without consequence.
I admire the cops honesty in asserting a claim of Constitutional rights proves reasonable suspicion of a crime Most Americans decided long ago that the Constitution is only for criminals. There was a time when Americans believed the Constitution was their to protect the innocent because without it everyone is a criminal. Thankfully a generation of pro cop propaganda like Law and Order has helped to turn the tide on silly notions like innocent until proven guilty.
I suspect if the Appeals court had not stepped in to stop this, the prosecutor would have certainly moved forward with the case and jury would have blindly convicted based on the cops unchallenged lying testimony. The average citizen couldn’t care less about police lying under oath unless it literally happens to them.
Cops lie, prosecutors make excuses and cover it up, a court will occasionally tell them that’s not nice and the cops go on lying…….
To protect and serve.
*encourage them to become better cops*
Fuck don’t encourage these shitbags. Post a map to their homes, Facebook accounts, and their relatives addresses.
Let their kith and kin absolve them, and "encourage them" to become better "pigs."
TD so Establishment, lol.