The United States Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals recently ruled that police officers can lie to suspects in regards to a traffic stop — even when no violation has occurred.
The ruling essentially gives police officers carte blanche to stop anyone they want for absolutely no reason — merely acting on a hunch.
According to the ruling, So long as the facts known to the officer establish reasonable suspicion to justify an investigatory stop, the stop is lawful even if the officer falsely cites as the basis for the stop a ground that is not supported by reasonable suspicion.
The court goes on to justify their rights violating and Stasi-esque ruling by claiming it’s okay as long as the officer truly believes the subject of his lies has criminal intent.
We emphasize, however, that although our focus is on the objectively reasonable basis for the stop, not the officers’ subjective intentions or beliefs, the facts justifying the stop must be known to officers at the time of the stop.
The case in question originated out of a federal court in Montana and involved two men accused of transporting methamphetamine.
The suspect, Hector Magallon-Lopez argued that his right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure was violated after he was stopped by an officer who lied to him about changing lanes without a signal. Magallon-Lopez argued, justly, that the evidence against him be thrown out, as it was obtained under false pretense.
The court rejected his argument.
The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the officer lying to Magallon-Lopez was justified so long as the officer had sufficient evidence to support this type of previously illegal investigation.
According to the ruling,Officers working with a Drug Enforcement Administration task force obtained authorization to wiretap a suspected drug trafficker’s telephone. From the wiretap intercepts, the officers learned that: (1) on September 27, 2012, a man named Juan Sanchez would be transporting methamphetamine from the Yakima Valley in Washington to Minneapolis, Minnesota.
When police found a car that matched the description of Magallon-Lopez and his friend, the cop, without witnessing any infraction of the law, pulled them over.
Although the officer had not observed any traffic violations, he told Magallon-Lopez that the reason for the stop was Magallon-Lopez’s failure to signal properly before changing lanes. The officer knew this was not the real reason for the stop, but he did not want to disclose at that point the true nature of the investigation.
A subsequent search of the vehicle yielded two pounds of methamphetamine.
Using the War on Drugs to justify the complete dismantling of the right to be secure from unreasonable searches and seizures, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has opened yet another door to despotism.
Police officers are already required to have reasonable suspicion of a crime prior to detaining citizens, which makes this ruling entirely irrelevant as a tool to aid law enforcement in catching the bad guys. If police already had reasonable articulable suspicion that Magallon-Lopez was breaking the law, lying to the man about why he was stopped becomes trivial and yet simultaneously nefarious.
Police abusing questionable rulings granted to them as tools under the color of law — is a common practice. How many innocent people will be targeted by a cop who has a hunch, as a result of this ruling? If history is any indicator, there are likely thousands of future innocent victims just waiting to come across with the wrong cop acting on his skewed intuition anxiously awaiting for the right moment to dole out roadside sodomy in search of a plant.