On Wednesday July 30, 2013, I was driving westbound on I-94 when I had a SUV quickly approached me from behind and turned on its red and blue lights. Having been pulled over before and told my car smells like marijuana, I sprayed air freshener to make sure it wasn’t going to be the case this time. I pulled to the side of the road in a construction zone. The officer approached my car on the passenger’s side; I rolled down the window, said, “Hi there. You’re going to want this,” and handed the officer my CPL. He asked if I had my gun with me and where it was, which I responded to with, “Yes, in my pocket.” Then, I handed the officer my license, insurance, and registration. He asked me, “Where you heading today?” and I answered, “Heading to do some shopping.” I asked, “Do you mind if I ask why you pulled me over?” to which he replied, “Your window tint.” At that point, I handed him my doctors slip for the tint. He read the slip and said, “Oh…good, you’re all set here. Let me go jot down your info, I’ll be right back, and you can be on your way.”
After a couple minutes, he returned and said, “Mr. Yetzke, so you have your medical marijuana card, correct?” to which I answered yes. He responded with, “Good, because I’m going to search your car.” That’s when I said, “No, you are not. I thought the police weren’t supposed to have access to the medical marijuana registry, and use it against patients…so, no, you do not have my permission or a reason to search my vehicle.” The officer said, “I’m the law, I have access to everything! Now, do you have any marijuana in the car?” I responded that I am a cardholder, so it is legal for me to have it. He responded, “Well, I smell marijuana and it’s illegal for you to have both the CPL and medical card, so I’m going to search you and your car!” I said, “I’m pretty sure I can have both, how else should I protect myself from someone trying to take my medicine from me? Plus, I know there isn’t any way you’re smelling anything of that nature! So, no, you can not search me or my car!” He then said that I needed to hand over my marijuana.
When I asked why, he responded with, “Are you resisting me? You need to do what you’re told or I’m going to arrest you!” I said, “Fine, here’s some weed for you,” and turned around in my seat to dig around in the backseat and get him the least amount of medicine I could, thinking he was just trying to steal it from me at this point. I handed him a small glass jar with some of my medicine in it. He took the jar, and told me that it was supposed to be in a locked box in my trunk. I informed him that I wasn’t aware of this law and asked when that started. He said it became a law in December and that I needed to get out of my car. I asked why, and he responded with, “If you don’t get out of your car, I’m going to arrest you for obstruction!” I responded, “I really don’t think I should get out of my car!” He said, “I’m the law and you need to do what I tell you or I’m going to take you in. So, get out and step to the back of your vehicle!”
Not wanting to go to jail, I got out of my car and went to the back of my car. He asked again if I was carrying my gun and where it was. I told him I was still carrying and it was in my pocket, as I’d said before. He then told me he was going to search me and my car, to which I responded, “No, you do not have my permission to search me or my car.” He said, “I need to disarm you and search you and your car.” I responded with, “I’ve told you over and over that you are not to search me or my car!” He took my gun from my pocket, said he needed to pat me down, and did so.
He asked where I work and I told him that I didn’t see how where I work or what I do for a living had anything to do with what was going on, so I didn’t feel that I should to answer that. He responded, “I’m the law, you have to answer my questions or go to jail!” I told him I am disabled and on disability. He asked what I’m on disability for and why I’m a medical marijuana patient. I respond with, “I know you’re not suppose to ask me about my medical condition or why I’m on disability.”
Once again he said, “I’m the law and you have to answer my questions…now I think we need to step back to my vehicle.” I asked why, and he told me he had a couple more questions for me and needed some more information. I said he could ask me anything he needed to right there and didn’t need me in his car to do that. He said, “I can just take you in and you can finish answering these questions from a jail cell, or you can answer them in my car.”
“Fine, I don’t really want to go to jail today,” I said. We went to the back door of his SUV and he opened the door and told me to get in. As I went to get in the vehicle, I noticed a dog and said, “I can’t get in there, I’m very allergic to dogs! My hands and feet swell and my air passages close!”
He responded, “You’ll be okay, I’ll roll your window down,” and pushed me into the backseat and shut the door. The officer then got into the front seat of the vehicle, rolled down my window, and started asking me more questions. I told him I couldn’t hear what he was saying, so he rolled the window back up and asked what my phone number was. I told him my phone number and informed him that I was already starting to itch from being near the dog. “You’ll be okay! Now. I’m going to search your car,” the officer said. I again told him that I did not consent. He told me, “I’m going to take the dog and search your car and if the dog ‘hits’ on the car I’m going to search it.”
“You already know I’m a card holder and there’s been marijuana in the car, so of course the dog is going to alert on it,” I replied.
“I don’t have to abide by that law, the people voted that in, not me and I don’t believe it should even be on the books…I’m the law and I didn’t vote for it, so I enforce it as I see fit,” the officer said. He asked me if there was marijuana in the car and I responded that there shouldn’t be anywhere close to more than I’m allowed. He got out, got his dog out of the back of his vehicle, walked the dog to the back passenger-side fender of my car, said something to the dog, and tapped the car fender. The dog jumped up where the officer tapped the car, then jumped back down. The officer returned the dog to the back of his vehicle and informed me the dog alerted on my vehicle and he was going to search it. At that point, I asked him to please get me out of his vehicle or at least roll the window back down because I was having a reaction to his dog. “You’ll be okay, he said.”
At this time, I saw two Bridgeman police officers arrive, talk to the officer that pulled me over, and then watch as the officer began to search my car. I asked the officers to get me medical attention, because I was having breathing difficulties. They turned and looked at me, then at each other, laughed, and walked away. Shortly after that, the officer that was searching my vehicle came back to the passenger side of his vehicle and informed me he found two hits of LSD in my center console and more marijuana in my car. I informed him the LSD was not mine, there was no chance it was ever in my car, and I that needed to get out of his vehicle because I was having breathing issues. Once again, he told me that I would be fine. He went around to the driver’s side of his vehicle, got his phone, made a call, then had a laugh with the two other officers before they left. The officer got back into the driver’s seat of his vehicle. I told him I couldn’t breath; he said to take deep breaths, not short ones and I would be fine. He also said he was giving me a ticket for “improper transportation of medical marijuana with the possession of LSD as a side note.” He got out of the vehicle to let me out of the back seat.
After getting out of his vehicle, I was light-headed and wobbly, and needed to catch myself on his vehicle. He said, “You need to get back to your car now!” I told him I was trying to get my balance and catch my breath to which he responded, “You can catch your breath at your car.” I proceeded to stumble my way to the back of my car, use my emergency inhaler, then vomit a couple times. He asked why I didn’t use my emergency inhaler in the back of his vehicle and I told him it probably was not a good idea to open my air passages in an area that’s filled with something that I’m allergic to, causing me breath in even more of the dog dander. He asked if he needed to call an ambulance for me, and I asked, “Why, so you can have my car impounded while I’m in the hospital? I’ll risk driving there myself, thanks!”
He then said, “Well then, you need to get in your car and be on your way!” I asked about getting my gun back. He responded that no, he was not going to give it back and told me I could call him next week so he could get it back to me. I said, “I don’t believe you can just take my gun like that!” He responded, “I can do whatever I want, I am the law!” I asked, “Shouldn’t I at least get a receipt for it?” to which he said, “We know I have it and that’s good enough.”
“How am I to contact you? Do you at least have a card so I know who to contact?” He said, “Hold on, I’ll see what I have,” went to his vehicle, and returned with a piece of paper. “I don’t have any cards, but here’s my name and a number you can reach me at. Now get in your car and leave!” I got into my car and chewed three allergy tablets to counteract the allergic reaction I was still having and left.
After all that, when I went to court the video from the officer’s vehicle wasn’t available due to “malfunctioning equipment” for the months of July and August! Needless to say, after thousands of dollars in lawyer fees and multiple trips to court, I had to take a plea or spend a minimum of two years, maximum of 10 years in jail because of the evidence that the officer both added and the evidence he destroyed! The county I live in took away my CPL before I even went to court, after the officer in the case contacted them. I will probably never be able to get it back again!
– Shane Yetzke