Indiana Police Officer's Public Groin Search for Marijuana Ruled Unconstitutional

An Indiana court ruled that a police officer violated both state laws and the U.S. constitution when she searched a suspect's genital area on the side of a public road while looking for drugs.

In October 2016, the police officer pulled over a car for a headlight infraction. When she approached the vehicle, she said she smelled marijuana. An initial search revealed no drugs, she began a personal search of the suspect, Taccasia Porter. According to court documents, the officer "pulled Porter’s jeans away from her body and inserted her hand inside Porter’s jeans," while on the side of the road. Then "after feeling an object inside Porter’s underwear, the officer then stuck her hand inside Porter’s underwear, next to her genital area, and retrieved a marijuana blunt." 

A lower court originally ruled that the search was constitutional under the Fourth Amendment, but Porter appealed the decision and it was overturned by the Indiana Court of Appeals. 

"While the initial pat-down search was permissible, we find that the subsequent search ran afoul of both the federal and state constitutions," wrote appellate Judge John G. Baker. "All of this took place in a public area on the side of a road, with no evidence that any precautions were taken to protect Porter’s privacy from pedestrian or vehicular passersby or the two men on the scene."

He also wrote that there was no evidence that the officer "took sanitary precautions, such as using plastic gloves to conduct the search," and, "Thus, the degree of intrusion was significant."  

Earlier this month, a woman in Harris County, Texas sued the local police department for a similar invasive search. 

What a stunning success for the War on Drugs.

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