Lawful Search Case Commentary by Dee Wampler

August 4, 2022
Lawful Search Case Commentary by Dee Wampler

A lawful investigative detention was not an illegal arrest when an officer expressed his intention to search a detainees pocket and then tried to reach into it [1].

Police noticed the suspect at a university student cafeteria. He appeared unkempt, his eyes were bloodshot and smelled of alcohol. A records check indicated he was not a student, had a prior felony and was known to be armed. Police also noticed a bulge in his pants pocket.

The officer asked if he could retrieve the item and the suspect refused, took off and ran. Officer’s tackled and restrained him which led to the discovery of a loaded handgun and drugs.

The court noted that reaching into the pocket was de facto arrest but believed the officers had probable cause under the stop and frisk doctrine of Terry vs. Ohio[2].

In this case, when weapons are suspected and officers have reasonable suspicion that the defendant is both armed and dangerous, it is a lawful Terry “stop and frisk.”

[1] U.S. vs. Hawkins, 99 Crim Law 585 (8*’ Cir. 2016)

[2] 392 us. 1 (1968)


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