Wednesday, 2. April 2014
A 70-year-old was recently arrested and had his vehicle searched by an Idaho State Trooper all because he had a Colorado license plate on his car, a state where recreational marijuana use is legal.
According to a lawsuit against the police department, Darien Roseen was traveling between Colorado and Washington in January when Idaho State Trooper Justin Klitch pulled out of the median and “rapidly accelerated” to catch up to Roseen’s vehicle. Like any reasonable person when a cop pulls up behind them without putting their flashers on, Roseen began to feel uncomfortable and exited the highway at a rest station. The trooper followed Roseen off the exit and turned on his flashers.
Roseen parked at the rest station and Klitch approached the vehicle. During their interaction, Klitch said he stopped Roseen for failing to use his turn signal when pulling off the highway, but the conversation quickly turned accusatory. Klitch asked him why he stopped at the rest station, but wasn’t satisfied with the 70-year-old’s response that had to use the bathroom, telling him, “You didn’t have to go to the bathroom before you saw me…. I’m telling you, you pulled in here to avoid me.”
Instead of going through the routine procedure of asking for a license, registration or proof of insurance, Klitch asked Roseen why his eyes “appeared glossy” and if he had “something in his vehicle that he should not have.” Roseen told Klitch he was legally carrying some medications, but that didn’t suit the trooper.
“After Mr. Roseen identified his possession of valid prescription medications, Trooper Klitch asked him, ‘When is the last time you used any marijuana?’ thereby assuming that Mr. Roseen had, in fact, used marijuana and inferring that he had used it recently,” the complaint read.
Klitch then threatened to bring in a drug-sniffing dog, and told Roseen his behavior was “consistent with a person who was hiding something illegal.” It only went downhill from there. According to Klitch, his fatal flaw was allowing the officer to search parts of his vehicle in an effort to get “back on the road faster.” The complaint alleges:
- Klitch searched Roseen’s truck, and despite gusty winds, claimed to smell marijuana.
- The trooper detained Roseen, put him in the back of his squad car, called for backup, and searched the entire vehicle.
- The second officer drove Roseen’s vehicle to the Payette County Sheriff’s Office without permission or taking inventory the vehicle’s contents.
- A subsequent search found no marijuana, but Roseen was cited for “inattentive/careless” driving.
Roseen retained council and is seeking federal punitive damages for what he calls an abuse of power and “license plate profiling.”
Mel Welch, a criminal defense attorney with Appelman Law Firm, said the trooper clearly abused his power.
“What struck me was the abuse of authority and the system this officer did by hiding behind accusations verifiable only through his testimony (“I smelled marijuana”), and covering up his abuse by issuing a ticket for inattentive/careless driving,” said Welch. “That kind of ticket is cover for the police to issue bologna citations, thereby calling the abused person’s credibility into question because they have something at stake.”
Related source: CBS Seattle