Unlawfully Searched And Charged With Disorderly Conduct For Retrieving Discarded Items From The Garbage
The following post was shared with the Cop Block Network by Robert Hope, via the CopBlock.org Submissions Page. It details an incident he had where he states he was illegally detained and searched, then charged with disorderly conduct. This was all the result of him having tried to earn a little extra money by picking up items that had been thrown in the garbage, but were still in a good enough condition to be sold.
Apparently, a resident at one of the houses where he was doing so was a member of the Amtrak police and did not like that he was attempting to “recycle” things he had discarded. That officer then detained him and called for local police in Upper Darby Township, PA. They subsequently charged Hope with disorderly conduct and confiscated a knife that he had on him at the time.
On April 14th 2012, I went out to do what I usually did every week to make a little more money for my prospective college tuition. I was going out to pick trash. I’ve made a surprisingly good return with going through other people’s garbage. I was still in my work clothing, a uniform with a very well known local politicians last name across the left of my chest; that was the name of his retail business. My uniform was all black.
As I approached the curb that I made over $200 the week prior picking, I was pleased to see that this wasteful person has yet again thrown out so many useful items that I could either resale or even end up donating to The Purple Heart. As I went through his trash, with gloves on because it smelled like cat piss, a short male approached me from the driveway of the house I was seeking treasures at.
“May I help you?” I saw that this man was in uniform and I assumed he was an Upper Darby Police Officer, for he identified himself as a “Police Officer.”
“Nope, just picking trash,” I responded.
“Get lost,” he said.
I started to go on about how I was on a public sidewalk, and did not need to get his permission to pick trash at curbside.
“Well, it’s MY trash,” he responded.
“Oh, you live here?” I asked.
Embarrassed, I said sorry and started to walk in the direction of my house.
He called after me, “Next time I catch you picking my trash, I will shoot you.”
I turned and responded, “Excuse me!?”
He reiterated, “Next time you are on or about my property and I am in fear of my life, I will shoot you.”
I responded with something along the lines of, “Yeah, okay.”
I didn’t want this Napoleon of a man to follow me home, so I then started to walk in the general direction of my house. Sure enough though, he pulled up beside me in his personal vehicle and ordered me to stop. I stopped. He got out of his car and was on his cellphone. I thought that was weird. Then that’s when I saw his uniform in the light. He was an Amtrak cop and was out of his jurisdiction! I thought that once the police arrived it would all just go away. Nope. I called the guy an asshole and called 911 myself, stating that an Amtrak officer is trying to detain me, and that he threatened to shoot me. Seven of my township’s police cruisers showed up, and two from the adjacent township showed up as well.
The first two officers were very polite, I asked them if they wanted me to put down my flashlight and gloves if it would make them feel more comfortable. “No, it’s fine, what’s going on tonight?” One of the two officers asked. In the midst our conversation an Officer by the name of Jeffery Thrash approached and things took a turn for the worst. He asked, “What are you doing?” etc., with a tone in his voice that sounded violent. This was the town’s bad apple cop right here. I’ve read and heard about him before.
He ordered one of his officers to Terry frisk me against the car. The officer was putting his hands in my pockets and came across a blunt tipped utility knife that would later be referred to as a “dagger styled blade.” To make the story shorter, I went on to cite case law and laws about how the Terry frisk was unlawful, the man whose trash I was picking didn’t tell the officers of any crime I was committing! I told the searching officer that I did not consent. Twice. He shoved me the second time, “Shut up!” later asking me if I knew that he “had to search me.”
Of course he didn’t have to search me, and he knew it. Officer Jeff Thrash threw my ID into one of my neighbor’s lawn and told me to get lost. He denied me a property receipt. He said in court that I was told that I could pick it up the following morning. False. He said that I wasn’t getting my knife back. He displayed it in the front of his utility belt as he went on to try to convince me that I was in the wrong. (It was a $45 Gerber knife with a Kydex sheath.)
My court date was set back twice. The second time they noticed they failed to subpoena the Amtrak officer, twice. Today I was found guilty of disorderly conduct. The fine is about $300, but shoots up to about $600 for “fees.” For what!? Questioning the officers actions and basic knowledge of the law?
The Amtrak Officer Ted Tsinarglov and Jeffery Thrash both lied in court about my demeanor during the incident. Claiming I was “irate and swearing” which an officer who was not sworn into my case interjected to the judge that breaking a city ordinance and being “irate” subjects me to a Terry frisk. The 4th amendment is dead in Drexel Hill, Upper Darby Township, Pennsylvania, which is right outside of Philadelphia.
– Robert Hope