A Florida circuit judge threw out the trial testimony of a police officer in connection with a recent drug case, after declaring the officer’s claims to be “incredible.”
The case involved a traffic stop that escalated after an officer who arrived at the scene claimed to have smelled marijuana in the vehicle, despite none of the other officers present noticing the smell. In this case, based on the claim of one officer, what began as a citation for failing to fully stop while turning right at a red light, ultimately turned into an arrest for drug trafficking, when during a subsequent search of the vehicle cocaine was found.
Questions about the arrest arose when the case went to court. The defendant had refused to provide the officers permission to further search his vehicle before one claimed he smelled marijuana.
After hearing testimony, the circuit judge declared the search and seizure to be invalid, because none of the other officers present at the time of the stop and arrest had smelled marijuana; in addition marijuana was never found in the vehicle. The prosecution subsequently dropped the case.
The attorney for the defendant claimed that there were many problems with the case, particularly when it came to the police apparently overstepping their bounds. What should have been a simple traffic stop, the attorney argued, instead turned into the harassment of the defendant.
While there has been no official investigation launched into the arresting officer’s activities, a police spokesman said that there is an inquiry underway. In any event, this case illustrates the importance of understanding your rights when questioned by law enforcement.