After pulling over a motorist who was driving with his headlights off, an Ankeny, Iowa, police officer attempted to trick the man into allowing him to search his car for marijuana.
The incident, which occurred earlier this month, was caught on video and shows how the officer tries to fool the motorist into incriminating himself.
“You play frisbee golf?” the officer asks.
“I do actually. I play out at Heritage (Park)” replies the motorist.
“OK. I need you to answer me a question. Why is it that everybody that plays Frisbee golf smokes weed?” the officer continues.
“No, it’s not everybody,” the motorist counters.
“It’s everybody, man. You can’t tell me you never smoked weed,” the officer says.
The motorist responds, “I’m not gonna tell you one way or another.”
“See, there you go,” says the officer. “How much weed do you have in the car today?”
The driver insists that he doesn’t have marijuana in his vehicle. Nevertheless, the officer tries once again to get permission to search the vehicle.
“You understand you’re free to go and everything but you wouldn’t have a problem with me looking through your car?”
Apparently frustrated, the driver takes a stand. “I actually would. Just because I have a disc golf bag doesn’t mean that every disc golfer does have weed.”
“So you have weed in the car then is what you’re saying?” says the cop.
“No I would say I have a problem with you searching my car because you’re profiling me based on being a disc golfer,” says the driver.
In an interview with a local NBC affiliate, Drake Law Professor Robert Rigg explains why the officer’s request for a search would have been unlawful under the state’s Constitution.
“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,” says Rigg.
“The Iowa Supreme Court has held that under the Iowa constitution you can’t convert an equipment violation stop into a general search,” he continued. “And any consent that would have been given would have been invalid in any event.”
Rigg, on the other hand, said that the motorist handled the situation well.
“I think the young man did exactly what he was supposed to do. He did not admit to smoking marijuana,” said Rigg. “He didn’t answer that question at all and he has the right not to answer that question. And he has the right to say, look, if you want to ask me questions, why don’t you call my lawyer.”
Since the video has gone viral, it prompted a response from the Ankeny Police Department, which admitted that the incident 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,” reads the statement that was posted on Facebook.
“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,” it continued.