Imagine that a police officer is stopping and searching people, while on duty, in uniform, using his marked police car, looking for drugs, in order to fuel his drug addiction. This officer actually did that, and got caught. And he did it with his body cam running, believe it or not. After receiving complaints about Officer Ty Jindra’s conduct, Minneapolis police supervisors reviewed his body camera footage in late 2019 and suspended him from duty before referring the case to the FBI.
In November, a jury convicted Ty Jindra, 29, of two counts of deprivation of rights under color of law and three counts of using deception to acquire controlled substances. In a mixed verdict, jurors also acquitted him of six other counts, including extortion. Prosecutors said Jindra made up reasons to conduct searches so he could steal drugs including oxycodone and methamphetamine.
June 9, 2022 DOJ Press Release:
ST. PAUL, Minn. – A former Minneapolis police officer was sentenced to 38 months in prison followed by one year of supervised release for stealing controlled substances in the course of his duties and violating citizens’ civil rights through unconstitutional searches and seizures, announced United States Attorney Andrew M. Luger.
From September 2017 through October 2019, Ty Raymond Jindra, 29, a former police officer with the Minneapolis Police Department (“MPD”), abused his position in order to obtain controlled substances including tramadol, methamphetamine, and fentanyl marked as oxycodone by deceiving his partners and others present at scenes, as well as the MPD.
As part of his scheme, Jindra diverted controlled substances he lawfully recovered for his own purposes using various means. Jindra diverted controlled substances by failing to inform his partner or others on scene that he confiscated controlled substances, failing to place the controlled substances into evidence at the MPD, and failing to report the recovery or diversion of the controlled substances. On some occasions, Jindra would contrive opportunities to interact with or search an individual, vehicle, or residence so that he could surreptitiously recover controlled substances and divert them to his own use. At times, Jindra conducted searches beyond the scope warranted under the circumstances in an attempt to recover controlled substances for himself.
On November 2, 2021, following a 10-day trial, Jindra was convicted of three counts of acquiring a controlled substance by deception and two counts of deprivation of rights under color of law. Jindra was sentenced yesterday by Senior U.S. District Judge Donovan W. Frank.
This case was the result of an investigation conducted by the FBI, with substantial assistance from the Minneapolis Police Department.
This case was tried by Assistant U.S. Attorney Michelle E. Jones and former Assistant U.S. Attorney Amber M. Brennan.
The driver of a black GMC Sierra, who led the Arkansas State Police on an absolutely insane high-speed pursuit, did actually have legs. However, dash cam video shows that his legs appeared to be injured and totally limp, as officers dragged him across the road, handcuffed, and shoved him into the rear of a police car. Was that a constitutional violation?
On May 20, 2023, at 3:21 p.m. Arkansas State Police Trooper Jackson Shumate initiated a traffic stop on a black GMC Sierra, at US Highway 67 South at the 3 mile marker along with Trooper T. Van Schoyck and Trooper A. Escamilla. The vehicle was known to be driven by 42-year-old Christopher Monroe. Arkansas State Police said before this chase, Monroe was already wanted for drug traffic charges out of Sherwood, Arkansas. On May 4th, 2023 he fled from ASP before doing the same on the 19th. Ten days prior, police in Rockwell County, Texas put out a warrant for his arrest for evading in a motor vehicle.
Police attempted to box him in, bur failed and the chase was on. At one point early in the interaction Trooper T. Van Schoyck attempts to PIT the vehicle but ends up failing and sliding into a concrete barrier instead. Despite that failure to stop the vehicle, the police continue to chase Monroe as speeds climb. Monroe and the police cars following him cross over the Arkansas River going around 120 mph (193 km/h). Monroe then turns around and makes it only a few blocks before being hit from behind by police, which causes him to roll his truck. The GMC eventually hits a brick wall and comes to a stop on its wheels.
Because of how forceful the crash is, the police car itself almost flips. Later, Monroe is removed from the car by police who had surrounded it. Police found 64 grams of ecstasy, 100 grams of meth, 436 grams of cocaine, 89 grams of fentanyl pills, 182 grams of marijuana, 12 grams of heroin, and 46 grams of Xanax. Along with a Taurus handgun and numerous drug paraphernalia, Monroe also had $8,612 in cash in the car. He was charged with trafficking fentanyl and cocaine, possession of narcotics and methamphetamine with intent to deliver, felony fleeing, simultaneous possession of drugs and a firearm, aggravated assault of law enforcement and criminal mischief.
An arrestee has a constitutional right to be provided with medical care if there was a known, serious need for medical care. A serious medical need is one that has been diagnosed by a physician as requiring treatment, or one that is so obvious that even a lay person would easily recognize the necessity for a doctor’s attention.
Deliberate indifference is established only if there is actual knowledge of a substantial risk that the arrestee required medical treatment and if the Defendants disregarded that risk by intentionally refusing or failing to take reasonable measures to deal with the problem. Mere negligence or inadvertence does not constitute deliberate indifference.
On a public bike and pedestrian pathway, police in Chicago set up a checkpoint at the exit of a pedestrian bridge and tunnel and subject everyone to search of their bags for alcohol or weapons, without reasonable suspicion, probable cause, or a search warrant. Is that legal? This fantastic submission video was sent in by Cynical Zombie and it’s very well done. The footage is great. But the question is better. Here’s what he filmed Chicago police doing earlier this week:
The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution generally requires a search of a person or property by the government be reasonable. A governmental search lacking a particularized warrant issued by a neutral and detached magistrate upon a showing of probable cause, is presumed unreasonable and therefore unconstitutional. Katz v. United States , 389 U.S. 347, 357, 88 S.Ct. 507, 19 L.Ed.2d 576 (1967).
However, a warrantless “administrative search” can be held reasonable and constitutional. The burden is on the Government to show that such a search is in furtherance of a specific and legitimate non-criminal goal, is no more extensive nor invasive than necessary to address that goal, does not give discretion to the searching individual, and does not have as a collateral purpose collection of criminal evidence. United States v. Stafford , 416 F.3d 1068, 1074 (9th Cir. 2005) ; United States v. Bulacan , 156 F.3d 963, 967 (9th Cir. 1998) ; United States v. Davis , 482 F.2d 893, 908 (9th Cir. 1973).
For instance, without a warrant, people can be lawfully stopped at road checkpoints for detecting drunk driving, driving without a license, and illegal hunting; government employees and students can be lawfully searched, including through drug testing; closely regulated businesses can be subject to periodic inspection; and airplane passengers can have their luggage opened and their bodies patted down. People can also be detained based only on reasonable suspicion of wrongdoing (“not a particularly high threshold to reach”), United States v. Valdes-Vega , 738 F.3d 1074, 1078 (9th Cir. 2013) (en banc), and can be arrested based only on probable cause (“not a high bar”). Kaley v. United States , 571 U.S. 320, 338, 134 S.Ct. 1090, 188 L.Ed.2d 46 (2014). Verdun v. City of San Diego, 51 F.4th 1033 (9th Cir. 2022).
Case law conditions administrative searches on being no more intrusive than necessary, and “consistent with current technology. ” It is only rational to interpret the term “consistent with current technology” to apply to both the object of the search and the means of the search (pat-down, x-ray, etc.). An airport security screening search is constitutionally reasonable provided it “is no more extensive or intensive than necessary, in the light of current technology, to detect the presence of weapons or explosives … [and] is confined in good faith to that purpose. United States v. Aukai , 497 F.3d 955 (9th Cir. 2007) quoting Davis , 482 F.2d at 913.
Where the checkpoint search is intended to detect ordinary criminal wrongdoing, however, the administrative search exception does not apply. Edmond, 531 U.S. at 41; Al-Kidd, 131 S.Ct. at 2081 (“[The] exception [does] not apply where the officer’s purpose is not to attend to the special needs or to the investigation for which the administrative inspection is justified.”). Checkpoint searches that are designed “primarily to serve the general interest in crime control” require a warrant or probable cause. Edmond, 531 U.S. at 42. Whren v. United States, 517 U.S. 806, 811-12 (1996) (“[T]he exemption from the need for probable cause (and warrant), which is accorded to searches made for the purpose of inventory or administrative regulation, is not accorded to searches that are not made for those purposes.”) (emphasis in original). On this point, the Supreme Court was emphatic: “We have never approved a checkpoint program whose primary purpose was to detect evidence of ordinary criminal wrongdoing.” Edmond, 531 U.S. at 41 (emphasis added).
The family of Christian Glass, who was shot and killed by police last year after calling for help from the side of the road, will receive $19 million from the state of Colorado and local authorities as part of a settlement, making it the largest police settlement paid by the state and one of the largest in the country.
This guy in Texas pulls into a Buc-ees to get gas. Next thing you know, a police officer “stops” him while he’s trying to pump gas, claiming that traffic violations were committed on his way through the parking lot. When the guy expresses criticism of the officer, he ends up being arrested for not sufficiently respecting the badge. Is future crime an arrestable offense?
To determine whether a police officer applied excessive force in violation of the Fourth Amendment, we instead examine officers’ actions “in light of the facts and circumstances confronting them, without regard to their underlying intent or motivation.” Graham v. Connor, 490 U.S. 386, 397, 109 S.Ct. 1865, 104 L.Ed.2d 443 (1989). Specifically, we examine “the severity of the crime at issue, whether the suspect poses an immediate threat to the safety of the officers or others, and whether he is actively resisting arrest or attempting to evade arrest by flight.” Id. at 396, 109 S.Ct. 1865.
This footage was submitted by a man who encountered law enforcement in Burleson, Texas, in a Kroger parking lot. He was documenting the lack of front license plates in the parking lot for something he was working on. A “Karen” in a nearby store saw him photographing cars and called the police. The police showed up and began to “investigate” the non-crime taking place. The man asserted his rights and asked if he was free to leave. He wasn’t. Thus the 4th Amendment was implicated. Was the detention justified?
This video was submitted by Jordan, who was pulled over in Charleston, West Virginia while delivering food via an online app. He was pulled over for a broken tag-light. Officers then asked him to exit the vehicle. He was frisked and then made to watch, while officers searched his vehicle because they claimed to smell marijuana. Can cops order you out of your vehicle at a traffic stop for any reason? Can they frisk you and search your pockets for any reason once they order you out of the vehicle? Can they search your vehicle just because they claim to smell marijuana?
“[A] police officer may as a matter of course order the driver of a lawfully stopped car to exit his vehicle.” Maryland v. Wilson, 519 U.S. 408, 410, 117 S.Ct. 882, 137 L.Ed.2d 41 (1997) (citing Pennsylvania v. Mimms, 434 U.S. 106, 98 S.Ct. 330, 54 L.Ed.2d 331 (1977) (per curiam)). That rule, the justification for which is officer safety, extends to passengers, as well. Wilson, 519 U.S. at 414–15, 117 S.Ct. 882. (United States v. Vaughan, 700 F.3d 705 (4th Cir. 2012)).
The Fourth Amendment prohibits police officers from prolonging a traffic stop beyond the time necessary to investigate (and write a ticket for) a traffic violation unless the officers have reasonable suspicion that the stopped vehicle’s occupants are engaging in other crimes. Rodriguez v. United States, 575 U.S. 348, 354-56 (2015).
The odor of marijuana alone, as of the current state of the law, provides probable cause for officers to search a vehicle for evidence of marijuana possession – despite state laws legalizing the possession of marijuana under some circumstances. As the Fourth Circuit noted in United States v. Mitchell (4th Cir. 2018), “[t]his is especially the case so long as marijuana possession is prohibited by federal law, without exception. 21 U.S.C. 841(a)(1).”
Have you seen these videos where innocent people get pulled over by the police due to a mistaken belief that their car is stolen? Then the police point their firearms at them and treat them like a criminal, before realizing the mistake. That can’t be constitutional, can it?
In April of this year, several people, including one child, were pulled over by the Lehi City Police when an officer said he received an alert and confirmed from dispatch that a vehicle had been stolen after running a license plate. The only problem was, it was a mistake. The vehicle was not stolen. The department has not explained the reason the officer ran their license plate in the first place.
They get pulled over and next thing you know, they see police officers approaching with guns pointed at them. One of the vehicle’s occupants pulled out his cell phone and began recording the incident. One thing led to another. The media began to report on it. KUTV reported that a high-risk traffic stop was performed on the vehicle, because according to the police statement, “routine protocol is to have guns pointed at the vehicle during a high-risk vehicle stop.”
A statement released Monday by the Central Utah Emergency Communications Center revealed that the dispatcher failed to recognize that the flagged information they reported back to the officer was actually a NCIC wanted HIT which was verified only by a partial vehicle identification number taken down in the incident which was never confirmed. The incomplete VIN of the stolen vehicle was identical to a string of seven numbers from the VIN of the vehicle that was wrongly pulled over. So, “the dispatcher failed to see that the actual plate number given was not stolen,” according to the Lehi Police Department statement. They said they have taken corrective action with the dispatcher involved.
So, the vehicle stopped was not stolen, nor was it displaying a stolen plate. The vehicle occupants were released from custody after about 20 minutes and then left the scene in their vehicle. Officials of the Lehi City Police Department called the incident “rare” and “unfortunate.” But this is not an isolated occurrence. This happens all the time.
Aurora, CO: A father records from a distance as cops approach his wife, guns drawn. His three year old child, still in the vehicle. This woman thought it was just going to be a regular traffic stop. But she was wrong. Bodycam footage shows the officers discussing the fact that they’re going to perform a so-called high-risk stop, with guns drawn, as per their department policy. This was apparently the result of officers marking the wrong box on a form. The vehicle had been previously repossessed and then reclaimed. But on the form it was marked stolen by mistake.
But that wasn’t the only time. It happened to another family. A woman with her car full of kids was in a parking lot in Aurora, looking for a nail salon, when all of a sudden police descended on her, allegedly because a license plate reader flagged her car as stolen. The family in the car, kids included, were made to exit the vehicle and lay on the ground.
The car was not stolen. Another mistake. What was the mistake this time? The actual stolen vehicle flagged by the plate reader was a motorcycle with the same number – but from a different state. So yet again: innocent people in a non-stolen car; police make the mistake; yet the innocent people get guns pointed at them. Why? They say it’s their policy. Officer safety, of course.
Raymore, MO: In August of 2022, a Raymore, Missouri couple was held at gunpoint by the Raymore Police. The video went viral first on Tik Tok and then hit the TV news.
So this was another mistake situation. Their son’s truck had been stolen just days before. But then it was recovered. The police then failed to take the truck off the stolen vehicle registry. So they got the “high risk stop” or “felony stop” treatment. Like the other victims, they were pissed and no longer back the blue types. This couple’s son is actually an attorney and he’s apparently pissed too – and summed it up well.
Fairfax, VA: In October of 2022, a mom and her 5 year old and 1 year old daughters were on their way to Walmart in Fairfax County, Virginia when they noticed a police car trailing them. Next thing you know, the vehicle pulled up beside them, then the police car rammed them, the police car striking their car head-on. Guns were drawn and she was handcuffed and her kids were put in a police car. Police later just said she ended up not being the person they were looking for. Another mistake. Apparently the vehicle was listed as “wanted.” But it wasn’t.
Norwalk, CT: It can even happen to the General Manager of the Yankees, Brian Cashman. Same old story. His Jeep was stolen and then recovered. But government employees did what government employees do. They just kept the stolen classification and then gave him the “high risk stop” treatment at gunpoint. At least for a few minutes before recognizing him and kissing his ass.
This is obviously far from an isolated incident. This apparently happens all the time. There are more examples out there. What do they all have in common? Innocent people – could be your father, mother, sister, wife – all held at gunpoint by your government agents, not in response to anything they did, nor any threat presented by them. Rather, it’s just their policy.
What happened to protect and serve? These are the people police officers have sworn to protect. All to often, those individuals are victimized in the interests of officer safety. In all of these incidents, though the police will apologize, they say it’s policy. Because it’s a “high risk” or “felony” stop. But is that enough to aim a gun at someone? I argue that it’s not.
What’s the law? Here, with Lehi, Utah being in the 10th Circuit, we have two real cases that happened that the courts have contrasted:
In Maresca v. Barnalillo County (10th. Cir. 2015), officers at gunpoint ordered a family out of a suspected stolen truck. The officers forced the family of two parents and three minor children to exit the vehicle and lie face down on the highway. The officers first removed the parents, who pleaded with the officers that there had been a mistake, that they should check the father’s license, and that there were children and a dog in the car. Even though one officer on the scene considered the situation “a little weird,” the officers ignored the parents’ repeated pleas to recheck whether the vehicle was in fact stolen and proceeded to order the three children out one-by-one.
The officers then handcuffed each family member (except the youngest) and locked them in separate patrol cars, keeping their weapons trained on the family throughout despite full compliance with their orders. The court found the forceful measures unnecessary and unconstitutional, primarily because the officers had no reason to believe the family possessed firearms.
Contrast that with a more recent case, Hemry v. Ross (10th Cir. 2023), where it was reported to the officers making the stop that the driver was a fugitive murderer. The court noted that in the case of a suspected stolen car, there’s nothing specific indicating that the car’s occupant may be armed. But where the driver is believed to be an actual murderer, officers acted reasonable in holding the man at gunpoint during the stop.
The point is, without more, police officers should not be aiming firearms at people. Reasonableness is the key. Aiming guns based on clerical entries and government policy is rarely going to be reasonable. Doing so should be based on actual perceived threats presented by the persons with whom they’re dealing.
This footage shows a man being confronted, arrested and tased by police officers, after he pulled over on the side of the road to observe and record a traffic stop involving his son. Did he have a right to observe and record the traffic stop? Or can the police make him leave – or worse?
Kenneth Espinoza was driving to a shop to get his truck serviced. His son was following him separately in another vehicle. But then, his son was pulled over by a deputy with the Las Animas County Sheriff’s Office, for allegedly following too closely to the police car. His father then pulled over behind the deputy to observe the stop and wait for his son.
But that’s not the main story here. Rather, the story becomes the officers on the scene getting butthurt about the father observing and waiting behind the stop. In the bodycam video, Deputy Henry Trujillo is seen walking up to the father’s window. He tells Espinoza he needs to leave the scene, or else he’ll be charged. Espinoza refuses, but moments later can be seen then attempting to leave the scene, at which point the deputies prevent him from leaving, including by pointing weapons at him.
The footage then shows the father being tased multiple times, including while handcuffed.
Prosecutors have now dropped all charges against Espinoza. He had been charged with resisting arrest and assaulting a peace officer. Espinoza’s lawsuit also alleges that Deputy Trujillo shouldn’t have even been a deputy in the first place, due to his criminal history. In 1997 he was charged with felony menacing with a weapon, which was pled down to misdemeanor disorderly conduct. The following year, he was convicted of misdemeanor harassment. According to the father’s attorney, that conviction should have barred Trujillo from becoming certified as a police officer in Colorado. There were also multiple restraining orders filed against Trujillo, including a 2006 domestic abuse allegation, including a stalking and assault allegation from 2007. Apparently a protective order was entered against him.
But there’s more. Trujillo was apparently forced to resign from the sheriff’s office in 2009 due to a conviction that is now sealed. What was it? We don’t know. Because it’s sealed. But then, he was rehired in 2010. Then in 2018 he was promoted. Now he’s third in command. The Las Animas County Sheriff released a statement saying he has asked for help from an outside agency to review the actions of his deputies. He said that Deputy Trujillo is still on active duty.
What is the law here? Did the father have a right to wait and observe at his son’s traffic stop? The bodycam footage indicates that the father was not just waiting and observing the stop, but also recording the stop. That’s the most important fact here.
It just so happens that Colorado, which is in the 10th federal circuit, is where case law just dropped last year on this very issue. And it’s not good for the officers. The case is: Irizarry v. Yehia, 38 F.4th 1282 (10th Cir. 2022). Here’s the backstory:
Early in the morning on May 26, 2019, Abade Irizarry, a YouTube journalist and blogger, was filming a DUI traffic stop in Lakewood, Colorado. Officer Ahmed Yehia arrived on the scene and stood in front of Mr. Irizarry, obstructing his filming of the stop. When Mr. Irizarry and a fellow journalist objected, Officer Yehia shined a flashlight into Mr. Irizarry’s camera and then drove his police cruiser at the two journalists.
Mr. Irizarry is a “Youtube journalist and blogger” who “regularly publishes stories about police brutality and conduct or misconduct.” On May 26, 2019, he and three other “YouTube journalists/bloggers” were filming a DUI traffic stop with their cell phones and cameras “for later broadcast, live-streaming, premiers, and archiving for their respective social medial channel[s].”
Here’s what the court held:
Filming the police performing their duties in public is protected activity. Police Officers in Colorado will be deprived of qualified immunity where they violate a citizen’s First Amendment right to film police performing their duties in public and take retaliatory actions against them. Officers standing in front of a camera, threatening violence, including aiming police cruisers at the individual, violate the First Amendment.