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Documentation Of Illegal Traffic Stop And Search
2012-05-08 16:49:58 (224 weeks ago)
Posted By: JWSmythe
Filmmaker Terrance Huff has filed a lawsuit against the city of Collinsville, Illinois, and Collinsville police officer Michael Reichert over a traffic stop last December.

View on YouTube Here:

The suit was filed Tuesday morning in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Illinois. The Chicago law firm Meyer & Kiss is representing Huff and Jon Seaton, Huff's passenger at the time of the stop.

The Huffington Post first reported this story in March. In dash cam video Huff later posted to YouTube, Reichert appears to engage in a number of constitutionally suspect interactions with Huff and Seaton along Interstate 70, just across the border from St. Louis.

Louis Meyer, the attorney representing Huff and Seaton, told HuffPost via email that his investigation has turned up more complaints against Reichert.

"We have discovered that Officer Reichert has a pattern and practice of fabricating probable cause to try and justify illegal traffic stops," Meyer wrote. "After making these illegal traffic stops, Officer Reichert conducts illegal searches of the individuals and their vehicles. Once again, he fabricates probable cause by falsely claiming that his K9 'alerted' to the presence of drugs in the vehicle."

(story continues below)

As HuffPost reported in March, the traffic stop raised a number of questions about law enforcement, the drug war and the Fourth Amendment. It occurred along a stretch of highway know to be a lucrative source of asset forfeiture revenue for state and local police departments. Defense attorneys told HuffPost that stops like the one depicted in Huff's video are common, and that police are known to manufacture traffic infractions to allow for such stops and then manufacture probable cause to conduct drug searches.

If police can establish even a slight connection to drug activity, officers can then seize drivers' cars and cash, with proceeds going back to the police department. Under Illinois law, it can be very difficult and expensive for an innocent person to have their property returned, particularly for motorists who are from out of state, like Huff.

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Editor: Everyone should be aware of their rights. You do not have to answer any questions. In some jurisdictions, you have to answer questions of your name, date of birth, and provide your drivers license, registration, and insurance card. When questioned, the only things you should say are "I have nothing to say without an attorney present", and "Am I free to go?" Be polite. Irritating the officer will not help you.

You do not have to, and should not, consent to having your vehicle searched. Only if the officer can show probable cause, can they search your vehicle without consent. As you will note in the video, dirt and yard debris from passengers shoes is implied to be drug residue ("shake"). Some less than honest officers will be kind enough to place drugs in your vehicle.

There is always a possibility that your vehicle has something in it that you are not aware of. Has anyone else ever been in your vehicle, at any point in time? That includes auto repair shops, valets, and driving friends around. Any of them could potentially have had drugs on them, and drugs could have fallen out of their pockets. The last thing you need is for an officer to find a joint under the back seat, even with fabricated probable cause for the stop.

If you can, it is a good idea to have front and rear facing cameras in your car. If for nothing else, you will have your own evidence. The officer stated that he swerved. In court, that video would demonstrate that such an incident did not happen.

As always, consult with a local attorney about these and other issues. Advice from us does not constitute legal advice.

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