Unreasonable Search at an Unmarked “Crime Scene”

Published On March 27, 2013 | By CopBlock | Articles

The following was submitted by Fred Ome via CopBlock.org’s ‘submit‘ tab.

I was walking down a side street near my house around 3:45AM when I noticed a man walking his dog and three cars parked haphazardly a few hundred feet behind him, headlights on. I stress ONLY headlights because at that point the roof racks weren’t clearly visible from my point of few. Out of habit when walking alone and approaching someone on a poorly lit street, I pulled my phone out and started the video camera. I stepped off the curb to give the man and his dog room.

As I passed him, I noticed a K-9 vest on the dog and State Police markings on the man’s coat. He offered a cordial, “How’s it going?” to which I replied, “As much as I love dogs, I don’t think I’d want to get in his way.” He told me to have a good night, making no mention of a “crime scene” or to avoid the vehicles at the end of the street, the markings of which were still unclear.

As I approached the vehicles, I noticed 4-6 uniformed officers standing on the opposite side of the road and then noticed the roof lights. However, not wanting to appear threatening or suspicious by turning around on eye contact, I proceeded to walk on the opposite side of the road at a steady, even pace with my hands out of my pockets without visually or verbally acknowledging the officers. As I passed, an officer turned around and yelled, “Come here!” As we hadn’t even made eye contact, I turned my head towards him as I continued walking. As I saw him, he was already only 5-10 feet away, still approaching. He asked me for ID, I said, “I don’t have to carry ID.”

“Yes, you do.”

He got next to me and held my arm, not aggressively but with authority, (just word play there, that’s not to imply consent). He brought me to the car and put my hands on the hood.

I clearly and calmly repeated that I did not consent to being searched.

I was searched regardless.

He claimed I “fit the description” of a suspicious person reported.

He asked if I knew the guy in custody who was seated on the sidewalk behind a patrol car; until the officer brought me to the car, he was blocked from view.

The pat-down lasted about 90 seconds and was thorough but not too invasive, (aside from him dumping out my last cigarette, which I didn’t notice until I got home).

When I was told I was free to go, I asked for names and badge numbers. All but one of the officers walked away and the remaining officer introduced himself as Sargent John W. Lewis but would not provide a badge number. He claimed that I had entered a crime scene and that was enough to search without consent. The only problems I have with that are: 1. There were no barricades/tape/chalk/paint lines indicating a crime scene. 2. The three cruisers at the scene had only headlights on, no emergency lights. 3. No officer asked me to maintain a perimeter or instructed me as to any area off limits. 4. Until the officer approached me, took my arm, and guided me to the patrol car, I was on the opposite side of the road from them and their focus of attention.

Because of the alleged crime scene, I’m not sure who is in the right. I feel like that search was unlawful, but I can’t find any information of regulations regarding establishing a crime scene. I would post the video, but I’m unsure of how/what wiretapping laws would be concerned. I was walking down the street and the officer approached me. My device had already been recording over a minute. I know at some point I said I was recording, but the officers kept talking over me and some dialogue is inaudible.

I’m very grateful for all the resources on this site. If there’s anyone with a comment or some non-legal advice, I would greatly appreciate that too. Just to be clear, Sgt. Lewis was not the officer that conducted the search. He did however claim the authority to initiate that search and he did withhold the identification of his subordinates.

– Fred Ome

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  • John

    Cops lie all the time here is a typical line of BS. He claimed I “fit the description” of a suspicious person reported, yea right…

  • Shawn

    First question is, what is the supposed description? Remember that two paper delivery women matched the description of a large black man in a totally different truck.

    Cops have no problem lying to justify an illegal search or stop.

  • rick

    You said the camera was on. Can we see the video?

    Remember to file a complaint if you feel you have been wronged.

    Also, it should be easy through an information request to find if and when the “suspicious person” call went out and to see if you fit the description.

  • Steven Silletti

    If you matched the description of someone they were looking for there would be some sort of record of that description being relayed to other officers through dispatch. Have your lawyer request the dispatch records for that night, then you can verify if the officer was telling the truth. He most likely was NOT.

  • slappy

    Another BS story. I’m sure if this actually happened he interfered with a crime scene. Where is this alleged video? I don’t believe you shot any video. You were just a nosy activist. Why are you walking around at 0345hrs? Just another Penthouse letter.

  • shawn

    @Slappy
    ” Why are you walking around at
    0345hrs?”

    Last i heard, it isn’t illegal. And a lot of people are night owls or work at night. I can’t speak to the story itself, but it is believable.

  • t.

    Even by the authors own description, he wasn’t “searched”. And I agree Rick, where is the video you shot while out for a stroll at 3:45 am.

    Sounds like the officers did a good job. Again.

  • t

    @ the punctuated t (roglodytam)

    You must have missed this during your insightful reading of the facts…

    “The pat-down lasted about 90 seconds and was thorough but not too invasive, (aside from him dumping out my last cigarette, which I didn’t notice until I got home).”

    I guess since no body cavities were violated it wasn’t a “search”.

    t

  • Common Sense

    Non incident.

  • t.

    Ah my imposter is back. Hey Common, does it bother you that I have a direct impersonator while yours just calls himself “real common sense”? I think mine is dumber than yours though.

  • rick

    The question is was there actually a report of a suspicious person
    and if there was, was there reasonable suspicion to detain the submitter(ie did he match the description)? The story says pat-down, so if the cop was truthful in his reason for detaining him then the cop’s action are legally justified.

    Next, did you mention that your were recording at the beginning of the interaction or were you holding your cellphone in such a manner that a reasonable person might believe you were taking video? If so, do not worry about wiretapping accusations.
    The above is required if you live in California, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, and Washington.
    If you live anywhere else you are okay–so please link any media you have.

  • certain

    They jacked him up because he was out in the middle of the night, period. Any of you fuck-wits who claim differently are lying or stupid.

    It wouldn’t be quite so bad if the freaking liars could just tell the truth and say, “It’s the middle of the night, and we catch a lot of people out committing crimes around this time. Do you live around here?” A reasonable person, like me, would appreciate that cops were doing their job and looking out for my house in the middle of the night, checking to make sure that somebody belonged in an area. But when they start lying and making stuff up, accusing somebody of committing a crime in order to get their info and run it, in other words, under false pretenses, how, exactly, are they any different from any other criminal out breaking the law? Because their ends are supposedly different? LOL.

  • certain

    Wiretap laws can not be enforced in any state for recording public officials conducting public duties in a public space.

  • Radical Dude

    You were the victim of a violent crime, sue the cop/criminal.

  • http://clarkcountycriminalcops.wordpress.com clarkcountycriminalcops

    @rick…Nevada is a one party consent state.

  • Common Sense

    @t

    ha ha ha, perhaps they share a hemisphere!

  • dougo

    some people don;t understand that you have a right to move about unmolested by anyone anywhere in the U.S. on public property especially the cops.if you see a cop do the simplest wrong complain in writing.time,date,location,veh.#,violation,lower yourself to their level!, except file no false complaints like they do.

  • Troy

    “Sargent”……….it starts with education….put the kool aid down and learn to spell….Sergeant

  • certain

    Hey, you impersonate a legitimate law enforcement officer, and he impersonates you.

    It’s the circle of life.

  • Sergeant Lee

    Troy he used the correct abbreviation for sergeant . You how ever misspelled the word .

  • YankeeFan

    The above is required if you live in California, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, and Washington.
    If you live anywhere else you are okay–so please link any media you have.

    Even in 2 party consent states, if you are in a place where a person has no expectation of privacy, it is not wiretapping. Illinois was the only state that required permission from police to record them, even in public. There is a reason why the 7th ordered the wiretapping law to not be used against citizens who record them.