Cops can always find an excuse to stop you. On the morning of April 15, 2013, Trooper Justin Simmons, who is part of an “interdiction team” that looks for contraband and money to seize, pulled over William Davis and John Newmerzhycky, who were traveling west on Interstate 80 in a rental car, a red Nissan Altima. Simmons later said he had received a vague tip from “an Illinois law enforcement officer” to be on the lookout for a red car, but he did not know why.
Whoa there! Illinois? You don’t suppose the ‘tip’ might have come from Black Asphalt’s own Deputy Hain from Kain County Ill? I wonder who was providing security for the World Series of Poker event (Joliet, Illinois) the two men attended.
Nawhhh… that would never happen.
Obviously that did not rise to the level of reasonable suspicion, which Simmons needed to stop the car. So instead he claimed that he pulled Davis and Newmerzhycky over because Newmerzhycky, who was driving, failed to signal as he passed a black SUV. But as can be seen in the video recorded by Simmons’ dashcam (starting around the 00:28 mark), Newmerzhycky did signal. In the absence of such contrary evidence, cops are free to invent minor traffic infractions to justify a stop they want to conduct for other reasons. Although it does not condone such prevarication, the Supreme Court has said any valid legal reason makes a stop constitutional, even if it’s a pretext for a more ambitious investigation. The Register reports that its “review of 22,000 warnings and citations given by the [interdiction] teams from 2008 to 2012 showed that 86 percent went to non-Iowans.” Because Iowans are much better drivers, of course.