An Iowa police chief is apologizing on behalf of one of his officers for the reasoning the officer used to try and convince a motorist to allow him to search his car.
Video taken of the incident starts with the Ankeny police officer returning the motorist's information and warning him to remember to turn on his headlights. Then the discussion quickly morphed into the motorist's involvement with Frisbee golf and the assumption that he thus smoked marijuana.
A cop accused a motorist who happened to be an avid disc golf player of also smoking marijuana. The cop tried to use this correlation to search the motorist's car, but he denied the officer access. (Photo credit: Shutterstock)
"Do you play Frisbee golf?" the officer asked.
"I do, a lot actually," the motorist said. "I play out at Heritage [Park]."
"OK, I need you to answer me a question: Why is it that everyone who plays Frisbee golf smokes weed?" the officer said.
"No, it's not everybody, just a select few," the motorist replied.
From there, the officer disagreed and suggested that he too had smoked weed.
The motorist laughed it off, saying he wouldn't give the officer information one way or another about his involvement with the drug.
"See, there you go. How much weed do you have in the car today?” the officer said directly.
"I don't," the motorist said, confirming to the officer that if he were to search his car or person nothing illegal would be found.
"Alright, you understand you're free to go and everything, but do you have a problem with me looking through your car?" the officer asked.
"Um, I actually would because just because I have disc golf bag doesn't mean that every disc golfer does weed," the motorist said.
The officer took this to mean that the motorist did in fact have marijuana in the car.
"No, what I'm saying is that I would have a problem with you searching my car because you're profiling me based on me being a disc golfer," he said.
Watch the full interaction that led to an apology from the police department:
In a statement on its Facebook page, the city said the situation was "handled poorly by the officer."
"In the video taken by an occupant in the vehicle, the officer engages the driver in a line of questioning that is foolish and not representative of the Ankeny Police Dept.’s training or interactions with the public," the statement continued. "This verbal exchange did not meet the level of professionalism expected of Ankeny police officers. Ankeny Police Chief Gary Mikulec respectfully apologizes for the officer’s demeaning statement and assures that the video has been preserved for an internal investigation."
According to WHO-TV, a legal professor thinks this officer broke the law with his prompting for a search.
“What the officer did after that was try to extend that stop into a general search of the defendant’s car, or the individual’s car. That’s not permissible anymore,” Robert Rigg with Drake University Law School told the news station. “The Iowa Supreme Court has held that under the Iowa constitution you can’t convert an equipment violation stop into a general search. and any consent that would have been given would have been invalid in any event.”
Front page image via Shutterstock.