Posts tagged Traffic stops

Tiny weapons searches

So here’s something a judge on the Massachusetts Appeal Court recently said — in reply to government cops who forced their way into Wilbert Cruz-Rivera’s car, without any warrant, and opened up a pill bottle while rummaging around in his things, and then claimed that this invasive warrantless search, conducted on the private property of a man who was not accused of any criminal offense, was justified as an officer safety search:

On this record, it simply was not reasonable to believe that the defendant might, upon his release with a message that he was free to go, enter his car, reach into the console, open a pill bottle, extract a weapon smaller than four-and-one-half inches by one-and-three-fourths inches, and use it in an effort to harm the two nearby, fully armed police officers who had just released him.

— Quoted in The Boston Globe (2009-12-17): Court: Concern about tiny weapons didn’t justify search

I suppose I am glad that a judge said this. But the fact that a judge had to say it — to clarify to a gang of pushy government cops that officer safety really is not a excuse reason to go on a warrantless search for tiny weapons hidden in closed pill bottles — and that to do so they had to overturn a lower court’s ruling, which upheld this ridiculous opportunistic lie — does not really make me very optimistic about the reliability or effectiveness of those constitutional brakes on police power that the court is supposedly out to save.