DEA Gives Former Marine Back $86,900 Cops Took From Him During A Nevada Traffic Stop Caught On Body Cam

from the one-of-America's-longest-running-scams dept

Because law enforcement just can’t stop taking money from innocent people, here’s another roadside shitshow that has resulted in an attempt to force the government to give back money it flat out stole.

This one has a couple of twists. First, it involves body cameras, so the whole depressing farce can actually be watched as it unfolds. The second twist is the federal government, which arrived (via cell phone) to pitch in with the theft.

This is what happened to Stephen Lara, 16-year military veteran and innocent person, as he traveled through Nevada on his way to visit his daughters in California.

On his drive from Texas to California, a Nevada Highway Patrol officer engineered a reason to pull him over, saying that he passed too closely to a tanker truck. The officer who pulled Stephen over complimented his driving but nevertheless prolonged the stop and asked a series of questions about Stephen’s life and travels. Stephen told the officer that his life savings was in the trunk. Another group of officers arrived, and Stephen gave them permission to search his car. They found a backpack with Stephen’s money, just where he said it would be, along with receipts showing all his bank withdrawals. After a debate amongst the officers, which was recorded on body camera footage, they decided to seize his life savings.

That’s the short version. That’s also the sanitized version. The longer, more excruciating depiction of these events can be seen here:

His motion [PDF] for the return of the $86,900 the NHP took from him goes into greater detail, including the fact that the officers left him stranded on the road without even enough money to finish his trip to California.

It explains the origin of the cash:

Lara made the trip with the $86,900 in cash that is the subject of this motion—his life savings, which he was holding in the hopes of purchasing a house for his daughters. Lara has kept his savings in cash for as long as he can remember, although all his income goes through banks before he withdraws it. Lara took his savings with him on the trip because there had been several property crimes in his parents’ neighborhood, and his parents planned to be out of town for a portion of the time Lara was away; thus, he did not feel comfortable leaving that much money behind.

The huge stack of receipts — which can be seen on the officer’s body cam footage — also explains the origin of the cash, all of which was traceable directly to Lara’s bank accounts and from those accounts to the sources of income.

The traffic stop was obviously pretextual. The officer who pulled him over didn’t even bother following up on the alleged violation (following too closely) and went directly into asking a bunch of questions about drugs, contraband, cash, etc. Lara was upfront about the cash. He even gave the officer permission to search the vehicle.

When the trooper saw the cash, he called in another officer to help him seize it. And that officer brought a dog, which made everything ok.

Then, a sergeant from NHP arrived. He had Lara’s money placed in a nearby field and instructed the officer who pulled Lara over to have his dog search for it. The dog found the money and purportedly alerted to the presence of drugs. The sergeant then ordered that the money be seized. At Lara’s urging, the officers inspected his ATM receipts and even took pictures. The money, bundled together using his daughter’s hair ties, was placed in an evidence bag. Although no DEA agent was present, Lara was given a receipt telling him to contact a DEA agent. Lara was then told he was free to go.

The drug dog was the permission slip — the thing that told the officers they could ignore all the documentation bundled with the cash. Of course it would alert on cash. Almost all cash in circulation has drug residue on it. And it’s not like this fact isn’t well known.

The other permission slip was the DEA agent. Although the agent was never on the scene, he was on the phone with the trooper (these conversations can be heard in the body cam recordings). The NHP trooper sought a federal adoption of the seizure via the DEA, making it easier to avoid state limitations or restrictions on cash seizures.

The money was taken from Lara on February 19, 2021. Calls to DEA were unfruitful but finally forced the agency to issue a notice of seizure on April 5, 2021. As the Institute for Justice (which is representing Lara) pointed out, this delay violated federal civil asset forfeiture law. The DEA had 90 days to either give the money back or proceed with the forfeiture. It chose to do neither.

But even if the DEA had done what it was supposed to, this would still be bullshit. There was likely no legal basis for the stop. There was no reason for the extended questioning. And there was definitely no reason — given the complete lack of suspicion expressed by any officer involved that Lara was involved in anything illegal — for the NHP and DEA to walk off with Lara’s money.

The good news is public pressure works. The Institute for Justice has been instrumental in forcing the DEA to hand back money it has stolen from innocent people. The problem is, of course, that not every case gets this sort of effective representation. And in many cases, the amount is big enough to matter to the people it’s taken from, but not big enough to justify spending the amount of money needed to force the government to return ill-gotten gains.

In this case, it worked. Shortly before Lara’s story went national, the DEA agreed to return his money to him. Along with the IJ, Lara is suing to have the Nevada’s forfeiture laws found unconstitutional. But beyond the return of the money, securing a copy of footage of the stop is a crucial win. It shows exactly how these stops unfold and the machinations of law enforcement officers to take cash from people they allege are criminals, but who are apparently not criminal enough to charge with any crimes.

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Comments on “DEA Gives Former Marine Back $86,900 Cops Took From Him During A Nevada Traffic Stop Caught On Body Cam”

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That One Guy (profile) says:

Theft is a heinous crime... unless you've got a badge

Never mind the children’s game of ‘cops and robbers’ these days the cops are the robbers except worse.

No seizure of funds without a conviction related to the cash in question, none of the money goes to the departments stealing it in any case, and wrongful seizures are paid back in full and with interest(on top of a full refund of the victim’s legal fees) with that money paid personally by the robbers involved rather than by the department they work for. Just a few simple changes and you could all but solve this problem practically overnight.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

That thing where they go after the low hanging fruit while pretending they are reaching to the top of the corrupt tree?

IRS audits… umm yeah poor people
Banking Fraud… to hard to win so no charges
Roadside robberies… I mean the Sacklers drive don’t they, how about pulling their asses over?

How many more times can they fsck the little people before the little people come up with a brand new idea to stick it to their betters who oppress them?
I mean it would be one thing if they at least paid you when they fscked you, but they are fscking you AND stealing your cash.

Guillotines kids, y’all are to weak to swing an axe enough times to make the point.

Money is illegal when it is in the hands of the little people.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
TFG says:

Re: Re: Shades of Gulag Archipelago

JFYI, "Perhaps if you held…" is a phrasing that amounts to victim blaming, especially when directed to a poster who is lamenting how the USA has shades of Stalinist Russia.

Always remember that the current state of malfeasance does not come because everybody in the country asked for it. It comes because of the actions of a privileged few, done to legitimize the bad behavior, at the expense of a great many people.

The victims of this lack the power to simply "hold them to higher standards" so easily. It’s not for lack of trying – but altering an entrenched power structure and bringing accountability to law enforcement is always an uphill climb. I find myself so very frequently frustrated with the European perspective on these things because there’s so very rarely any acknowledgement of this struggle, so very rarely any expressed sympathy for the victims, and so very often a sense of "you should just be us" – as if it were so easy.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Shades of Gulag Archipelago

Until the US electorate moves away from the thinking that there are only two parties worth voting for, there is little chance of getting politicians to listen to the people. While a third or fourth party may not gain a lot of power, they do provide a means of getting rid of the worst of the politicians, a putting a warning shot across the bows of others.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
katsai (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Shades of Gulag Archipelago

To get past that point, we’d have to restructure elections so that the "first past the post" method we currently use got changed to something else. Unfortunately, both parties currently in power have no plans to weaken their positions by allowing anyone else to step into the pool. We need a complete overhaul of our entire electoral process, including but not limited to ranked-choice voting and the elimination of gerrymandering in favor of an independent districting committee that is not beholden to either party. I don’t see that happening any time soon. Probably not in my lifetime.

TFG says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Shades of Gulag Archipelago

England also has Boris Johnson as a prime minister, and the clusterfuck that is Brexit – with elected representatives misrepresenting and then forcing a move that, based on what I can see from this side of the pond, the majority of people didn’t actually want.

I don’t think this is the positive example of First Past the Post that you’re presenting it as.

And, my dear compatriot – I still get no sense of any empathy for the victims of the current system form your posts, nor acknowledgement of the struggles to change things for the better.

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Shades of Gulag Archipelago

"England also has Boris Johnson as a prime minister, and the clusterfuck that is Brexit – with elected representatives misrepresenting and then forcing a move that, based on what I can see from this side of the pond, the majority of people didn’t actually want."

The UK has less problems with first past the post than the US – but that’s a very low bar indeed, as you note.

Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson was always going to end up a winner. He’s got the education from Eton and Oxford. He’s more highly bred than a hilltop bakery with his paternal line solidly entrenched in politics and ancestry right out of old bavarian nobility. And he learned early on that as long as you make people laugh at you you can get away with anything. A different type of grifter than the thin-skinned Trump, beholden to narcissism, Johnson leans heavily into his clownish persona, going the distance to ensure the brits all view him as enthusiastic, bumbling, friendly and harmless. AS PM’s go, the UK could -and has – do worse because by no means is he the idiot he portrays himself to be.

The issue is that he rode into power on Nigel Farage’s anti-EU campaign and is bound to that particular shit-show.

Don’t get me wrong though – as a citizen of another EU member state I’m also inclined to think more member states ought to threaten leaving – because the EU might have been nice while it was still about the four freedoms and the combined marketplace but turned into a bureaucratic monster riddled with all the worst bits of US pork barrel politics and lobbyist regulatory capture the very second the commission obtained real power.

The UK somehow managed to do everything wrong with Brexit, setting themselves up for a situation where not only everything worked out with the EU will be gone but every advantage enjoyed by older treaties since the Schengen accords will be similarly gone. And that’s going to hurt them for decades. Badly.

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Shades of Gulag Archipelago

"I find myself so very frequently frustrated with the European perspective on these things because there’s so very rarely any acknowledgement of this struggle, so very rarely any expressed sympathy for the victims, and so very often a sense of "you should just be us" – as if it were so easy."

Perhaps, from the european perspective, if I put it like this; You’ve got a childhood friend in dire straits. He’s in a bad shape because his legs don’t work. His legs don’t work because he’s spent some fifty-odd years worth of treating them with leeches and walking on hot coals rather than listen to the increasingly desperate attempts of everyone trying to recommend him an actual physician. At some point you just keep telling him to see a doctor because there’s nothing else left to say and you’ve, by now, become convinced at this point it may be too late to keep him out of the wheelchair.

What you all are going through now? That’s something we started telling you was coming about 30-40 years ago. And americans never wanted to hear it. Too much socialism. Too much bleeding-heart liberalism. Too wasteful. Too expensive. Too much power to government. Couldn’t be done. The citizenry wouldn’t wear it. No one would accept paying that much for other people. Too harmful to industry. Would wreck the economy.
And after decades of hearing "No We Can’t" – do any of the things europeans have lived with fully functional examples off for half a century…I can’t speak for everyone but I, for one, am damn tired of hearing one US huckster after the other explain how what everyone else does in the world is somehow beyond americans these days.

You people used to be the country of Can Do! Now you’re the country of No We Can’t!

And it’s solely due to spending every year since the 80’s doubling down on what you couldn’t do to fix god damn anything – while across the pond we were sitting on working solutions for just about all of those problems.

Now things fall apart; The centre can not hold. A state of things the generation before you either encouraged or sat on their hands and let happen. Because I can tell you that up until Reagan you guys were basically in lockstep with us on so very many issues.

Sure we can blame the GOP. But with a historical ~50-60% voter turnout in every election and an utter apathy among progressives to actually muster enough political involvement to give a shit going on for decades some blame must surely be laid among those generations who didn’t care enough to put a stop to the decline.

Yeah, "being us"? it’s easy. Or rather it was easy for most of your history, and particularly so up until at least the 70’s. At which point the GOP went ahead with the bit in their teeth and those who would oppose them were navel-gazing and thinking "Won’t impact me so who cares."

So pardon me for saying this, but the fact that contemporary US looks the way it does is because a minority wanted it that way and the majority didn’t care enough to put a stop to that.

And every time for the same reason – you didn’t trust the doctor or the success example, because magical thinking and political apathy is the US way.

Corrupt US Law Enforcement. Lack of universal Health Care. Lacking basic education for all, with functional illiteracy still a thing. The cult of ignorance. None of these came from a vacuum. They come from a society broken in fundamental ways, which refuses to address and fix any of the problems or underlying causes, and has done so since the 60’s and 70’s.

So yeah, I don’t know what to tell you. At this point european nations have stood as working examples for most of the issues facing you today but you chose not to build any of the fixes because it wouldn’t fit your way of doing things. As a result of which the current situation is the consequence of deliberate choice made by the last three generations of americans.

Our old childhood friend is in a bad way today. His legs are shot worse than ever. One eye has gone so nearsighted he can’t see beyond his nose. He’s got split personality and one of his personas isn’t nice at all. He’s been hooked on every quackery under the sun, side effects of which made him impulsive, forgetful and bipolar. Every "episode" he has breaks more of his stuff and he hasn’t had the energy to clean or maintain his home for so many years the roof is caving in, there’s a tarped-over hole in a wall and his garden burned to the ground last summer. The one thing of his which still works is his shotgun and his AR-15 which he tends religiously and occasionally fires blindly out the remaining window.

It’s, frankly, horrible to watch. And most horrible of all is that none of what he suffers was done to him by outside forces. He’s done it all to himself while ignoring every urge to get the help which was available.

At this point…what would you suggest we tell him?

Upstream (profile) says:

Re: Re:

People may be trying to avoid the government knowing their business, even though their business may be perfectly legal. In the US, any large banking transaction (I think it is currently >$10K, but there are proposals to lower it) must be reported to the Feds. If you accumulate cash slowly, in small amounts, over time, you can avoid the scrutiny, at least to some degree.

Keeping a business transaction private can be desireable, not only because of the basic principles of an individual’s right to privacy, but also because you may not want potential competitors to have advanced knowledge of a pending business deal. There is a general truth about secrets: the more people that know the secret, the less it is really a secret, and the greater the chance it will get out and more and more people will know the now non-secret.

Here is a simple example of why this might be important in business: If only I know that I want to buy a certain car, then that is 1 person who knows. If the seller knows that I want to buy that particular car, that is now 2 people who know. If my bank knows I want to buy a car, that is 2 + however many have access to the bank data. If the Feds know that I want to buy a car, that is 2 + the bank people + who knows how many people that have access to the Federal data. The more people that know, the more potential there is for leaks. And in addition to the "secret" that I want to but a particular car, there is the "secret" of just how much I am willing to pay for said car. If I withdrew $57K from the bank, that is a very good indication that I would be willing to pay up to $57K for the car. If Joe Blow knows that I want to buy the car, he may get to the seller first and buy the car out from under me. If Joe Blow knows I withdrew $57K to buy the car, he may offer the seller $60K to outbid me.

It is just a simple example to illustrate the point that there are completely legitimate, legal reasons for wanting to keep business transactions private. Cash, accumulated in small amounts over time, is one of the few ways to do that.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
James Burkhardt (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Withdrawing large amounts of cash isn’t exactly easy, even when you use BOA or Wells Fargo or chase. Banks don’t like to drain reserve funds that way. Many banks have a daily cash withdrawal limit, likely a holdover from a time when runs on the bank happened like once a decade. If you plan to make a cash purchase out of state, it would be reasonable to arrange the withdrawal with the bank so as to avoid any friction and avoid having to pack a suitcase in the lobby before your trip. If you re-read this, a lot of these cases are from people taking money to make a cash purchase. For private party transactions cash is better than a check, as check fraud remains an easy grift in private party transactions. So reason 1, cash is king but banks dislike large withdrawls.
The second reason others have mentioned. The great depression resulted in families that lost everything and don’t trust banks, and that distrust lingers today. Thieves draining your accounts due to a data breach somewhere, like a data breach for the company that handles payment processing for my landlord, is also a concern for Americans that, while probably overblown by the media, leads to squirrelling away money somewhere. Particularly for the risk adverse.

And lets not discount America as the current home for anti-Semitic thought, including Jewish banking conspiracies. You’ll get quite the crowd avoiding banks over conspiracies.

As far as ‘regularly’, its a country of 350 Million people, and the vast majority of seizures are below $100. We see less than a case per quarter that makes big enough news to end up here. I think the only reason we ever hear about them is forfeiture, which might mean its a lot more common, and possibly a lot more common in areas where the money isn’t regularly seized we just never hear about it.

Anonymous Coward says:

That is why, in case they use ERAD, you do not want to carry your ATM card with you. Just use a PayPal of Netspend card, and only keep what you need for your trip on there. Both cards allow you to transfer funds from your bank accounts onto the card when need.

By only carrying your PayPal or NetSpend card, it limits the damage, since they can only take what is on the card, leaving the rest of your savings in tact. I never carry my ATM card when on a road trip. I only carry PayPal and NetSpend cards, so it limits the damage they can do with an ERAD scanner.

And like I have said before, when I go on any road trip I have my phone set to insane cop proof mode where there is no way they can get anything out of my phone if it is seized.

There is no law in any of the 14 provinces of Canada, 50 states of the USA, or 31 states of Mexico that makes "booby trap mode", as I like to call it, a criminal offence to use. If they make too many password attempts and the phone wipes and resets itself, it is just their tough luck. You cannot be prosecuted to enabling booby trap mode.

Encryption, plus the "booby trap" mode which will cause the phone to wipe and reset if they try and to brute force it, and there are too many failed password attempts, which, like I said, is not a crime to use anywhere in Canada, Mexico, or the USA, to have that enabled.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Using that technique of not carrying an ATM card for your bank, and only carrying a PayPal or Netspend card and only loading money, from your bank account, onto it as needed is the best way.

While jamming wireless Internet does not, contrary to popular opinion, violate FCC rules, some prosecutors might construe it as a violation of the CFAA, as jamming wireless Internet could be construed as denial of service attack.

CFAA violation, yes
FCC rules violation, no

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

This would seem to indicate otherwise.

It does not mention WiFi specifically, but "other signal jamming device designed to intentionally block, jam, or interfere with authorized radio communications" sounds broad enough to cover it. This is from the FCC aka horse’s mouth (some might say horse’s other end, but that is for a different conversation).

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Jamming wireless internet would come under the CFAA, as it could be construed as a denial of service attack. That puts it under FBI jurisdiction. The FCC does not have jurisdiction over CFAA violations.

Interfering with wireless cellular Internet would would only be an FBI matter, as the CFAA comes under FBI jurisdiction.

TFG says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Can you jam wireless internet, and wireless internet only, without interfering with any other authorized radio communications?

To my (admittedly limited) understanding, jamming works by flooding the spectrum with signals. I’m not sure you can jam only "internet" data and not also other communications. If you could, it would be pointless – to avoid running afoul of regulations, you’d have to leave cellular spectrums untouched, since that’s both phone and internet.

And based on the FCC issuing fines for cell phone jamming, that does appear to be FCC jurisdiction:
https://www.tampabay.com/news/publicsafety/crime/seffner-man-fined-48000-by-fcc-for-using-cell-phone-jammer-on-daily-commute/2278972/

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

That depends on the purpose

Some two yards do jam to prevent any tracking devices someone might have in an impouded vehicle from working.

I know this because when my car was declared totalled in an accident a few years ago and I had to go down to the yard to get the stuff out of it, my cell phone service went dead with I got to the tow yard.

To prevent any tracking devices that may have been inserted by owners of impounded vehicles, this tow yard had jammers deployed to prevent the tracking devices from being able to connect to the cellular network to give up their locations.

They tow yard owners were well within their rights to do that to protect their property.

You do have a right to protect your property from break in which made their jamming of cell signals on the property 100 percent legal.

There is still a constitutional right to property in this country, and the tow yard owners were exercising their constitutional right to protect their property.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

I have heard of the Oklahoma Highway Patrol using ERAD to raid peoples’ bank accounts, which is why you need to take extra precautions when travelling there.

River City Bank and US bank either have, or will have, features on bank cards where you can restrict where they can be used. This will cause any attempt by an OHP officer to use ERAD to seize the money in your bank account to fail, becuase their ERAD machine is not in the "whitelist", meaning the transaction will be declined by the bank. The OHP office will never figure out what happened.

From what I have heard, Oklahoma’s ERAD systems are different, which you why you need to take precuations.

If you own a 2005-2011 Chevrolet Cobalt, you can easily hide your bank ATM card where any OHP officer who pulls you over can never find it, and where he cannot go tearing it apart without a warrant.

I will not say where it is, so any LEOs reading this will not find out. All I can say it that if you hide your bank ATM card there while travelling through Oklahoma, no OHP officer will ever find it. If you own a 2005-2011 Chevrolet Cobalt, it is there, and you should use it if you can find out where it is, and they cannot go tearing that out without a warrant.

I do that when I travel by car to one amusement park near Oklahoma City. I am an carnival ride and amusement part junkie.

When I go to Frontier City amusement park I make sure to hide my bank ATM card where any OHP officer who should pull me over will never find it.

Hiding it where I do does not break any laws in Oklahoma.

Anonymous Coward says:

One reason they likely don’t use ERAD in Nevada is because a lot of the state is in a radio quiet zone to protect Area 51 where there is no cellular data, and voice calls are analog, if you are near a town. ERAD, because it needs cellular data, would not work in a sizeable chunk of Nevada, due to the quiet zone.

When I have gone to the Bob Scott Campground outside Austin, NV, I have had to drive 65 miles to the next town, where I could connect to a Wifi.

Using my 10 watt linear amplifier USB adapter, I can connect to the open WiFi at the Sundowner motel a mile away when I go to Eureka, Nevada.

I always use a no-log VPN when I do that because the Wifi at the Sundowner probably violates quiet zone rules, and they will never be able to trace me through my activity, and will only see t he connection to the VPN.

Here in California, my 10-watt USB adapter does not violate FCC rules, but it almost certain does violate FCC quiet zone rules in Eureka, Nevada.

Wyrm (profile) says:

Every time I see a report on asset forfeiture, I wonder what kind of fascist country allows the seizure of property without cause or conviction. And then the answer hits: ah right, the United States of America. Because there seems to be no constitutional principle that prevents seizure of property without cause. Which would be placed conveniently between the third and fifth amendments. Just saying.

Then again, to the cops’ defense, the driver they interrogated told them he has lots of money and allowed them to look for it. If that’s not an invitation to being robbed, what is it? (/sarcasm)

ThatOtherOtherGuy says:

A reminder of how to handle interactions with police officers...

Don’t volunteer any information other than your driver’s license, registration, and insurance. Although this seizure was a horrible violation and the stop was pretextual, the driver brought this all upon himself. He offered information to the officer and gave permission for the search. Both are straight-up idiotic specially when you have been stopped under pretext.

Remember, "anything you say can be used against you". They don’t have to read you your writes for that to be true.

The phrase that scares all LEOs, "If I am not under arrest, I would like to leave immediately." If you say that on a body cam, the LEO has two options: 1.) Arrest you with whatever PC they have 2.) let you leave immediately.

Wyrm (profile) says:

Re: A reminder of how to handle interactions with police officer

[…] the driver brought this all upon himself.

Blaming the victim is normally a horrible attitude.
Then again, given how the police works in the USA in general, and with asset forfeiture in particular, that’s not exactly blaming the victim, it’s just a cold hard fact. Letting the cops know you have a large amount of cash on hand is, sadly, an invitation to having the cash seized.
Even though it is not a crime, the cops knowing that you have a large amount of cash in your car is all the "probable cause" they need to seize it. Everything else is pretextual and they will hold you as long as possible to build a more legal excuse.

In this example, returning the money shouldn’t be the last of it. The cops on the scene who seized the money leaving the man basically stranded (they admitted on camera that they thought the man was clean) and the DEA agent who encouraged it (he was told the man seemed clean) should be sued. And a legislative effort should be made to strike asset forfeiture out of the books ASAP.
Not holding my breath for either of these to happen though.
However, barring both of those things, it will happen again. And again. Because the DEA and the local police have all the financial incentive to do it. Since there are tons of cops hungry for the opportunity to trip on their own power and this is one huge permanent opportunity, the very least would be to penalize those who abuse it, but that barely ever happens too.

Sadly, you can’t afford to talk honestly and openly with cops. No joking, no friendly banter. You must always assume that cops are not your friend and reply to their questions politely but minimally. So your conclusion is right here: stick to the minimum: "I want to remain silent as per the fifth amendment" (stupid as it is, you have to be explicit about the 5A… there was a precedent that "I want to remain silent" isn’t enough to invoke your 5A right because… well… you might have some other reason not to speak) and "Am I free to leave?" (at which point they can’t prolong the stop without an actual cause, otherwise they can’t hold you long enough for a K9 or DEA agent to arrive on scene). It’s unfriendly, borderline rude in other circumstances, but it’s become the only way to safely interact with cops. Also, you should record it all, just in case their body-cam "malfunctions".
In most free countries, this would be near-paranoid behaviour. In the US, it’s so necessary that at least one court had to explicitly recognize that "running from the police" is enough of a reasonable behaviour that it does not constitute probable cause.

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