'Bad policing': Deputies make up traffic violation, rip truck apart

June 11, 2023
World Net Daily

This story was originally published by the WND News Center.

A lawsuit has been announced against a Texas sheriff's deputy for making up a traffic offense so he could stop a driver and search his vehicle for drugs or evidence of a crime.

He found nothing.

It is the Institute for Justice that announced the case on behalf of Houston resident Alek Schott.

It was prompted by the decision by Bexar County deputies to stop him – illegally – accuse him of a traffic violation he didn't commit, and then detaining him and searching his truck in violation of the Fourth Amendment, the IJ confirmed.

"The Fourth Amendment prohibits the police from pulling you over without a good reason," said IJ Attorney Christie Hebert. "If police want to pull you over, interrogate you, and search your car, they need to have a factual basis to suspect you of a crime. The deputy here didn’t have one."

The IJ said the stop happened March 16, 2022, when Schott was going home from a work trip.

He was stopped by a deputy "supposedly" for drifting out of his lane, a claim that was debunked by Alek's cashcam.

But things "only got worse" after the deputy "falsely" accused him of the traffic violation, the IJ said.

"Rather than the usual 'license and registration,' the deputy asked Alek to get out of his truck and sit in the deputy’s police cruiser. At that point, what started as a traffic stop turned into an interrogation. The deputy asked Alek about his identity, trip, work, family, and whether he had anything illegal or large amounts of cash in his truck. Despite Alek’s calm explanation that he was on a run-of-the-mill work trip, the deputy declared that Alek’s story didn’t add up and that he was going to call a drug dog to the scene," the IJ said.

Lawyer Joshua Windham added, "Watching the body camera footage, it is clear that the deputy decided he wanted to search the truck before he even pulled Alek over. Based on that goal, he treated Alek’s calm, direct, and truthful answers as somehow suspicious in an effort to gain up a supposedly-legitimate reason to search the truck. That’s not how the Fourth Amendment works. Police cannot decide to search-first and justify-later."

After a second officer arrived with a drug-sniffing dog, they truck literally was disassembled and searched.

"Bodycam footage reveals the deputies emptying every bag and pulling apart every part of the truck. The only thing they found were some food wrappers, clothes, work gear, and car seats—all items consistent with what Alek had told them moments before," the IJ said.

What the deputies didn’t find was drugs or any other evidence of a crime.

The IJ said, "What Alek experienced isn’t just bad policing—it’s unconstitutional."

The organization's lawsuit seeks to "stop that kind of unconstitutional behavior and hold the Bexar County deputies accountable for violating his Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures," the IJ said.

"If I didn’t stand up for my rights, then the police could continue to interrogate drivers and search their cars without any justification and get away with it," Alek said.

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