McKenna on KIRO: Wrongfully pulled over but still busted

KIRO 97.3 host Dave Ross asked Rob about when courts must throw out evidence obtained during an erroneous traffic stop.

Dave Ross: “So I was amazed to find that some years back, the [U.S.] Supreme Court ruled that if a police officer uses a misinterpretation of the law to stop you, that stop and the evidence collected during that stop could still be considered legal.”

Rob McKenna: “Yeah, that’s exactly right…This is a Fourth Amendment case; the Fourth Amendment, of course, protects all of us from illegal search and seizure by the government. In other words, it’ll block the introduction of evidence that was improperly obtained by the police – for example, obtained without a warrant…

“Here you have a case involving an individual who was driving along and was pulled over because he didn’t have a front license plate [and] he had an air freshener hanging from his rearview mirror. The police officer contended that he thought the front license plate was required – it wasn’t, by law. And he thought the air freshener was illegal – it wasn’t, as a matter of fact, in Wisconsin.

“But not withstanding the fact that his stated pretext for pulling this car over was the missing front license plate and the air freshener, the Supreme Court of Wisconsin decided the marijuana and drug paraphernalia found in the officer’s search of the individual’s car would not be thrown out.”

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  • Michael Eads

    It’s called “The Terry stop” but in this case there is no reasonable suspicion that there was a crime being committed.