Court: Cops have the right to frisk everyone
A Federal appeals court this week ruled that police officers are justified in frisking anyone they believe may have a weapon during a traffic stop without regard for whether the individual is legally armed.
The U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals sided with a lower court in a 58-page ruling determining that officer safety should always trump personal privacy and the right to self defense.
The original case was based on the complaint of a felon pulled over for a seatbelt violation in West Virginia and subsequently searched. By the end of the stop, the felon, Shaquille Montel Robinson, was charged with illegal firearm possession.
Robinson attempted to have evidence of his firearm possession thrown out in court based on the premise that officers had no reason to search his person and, if they hadn’t, wouldn’t have discovered his firearm.
It’s important to note that Robinson was a passenger in the vehicle pulled over for the seatbelt violation and was only searched after giving n officer an “oh, crap” look, according to court documents.
In other words, the cops didn’t know he was a felon until after he was searched.
The appeals court, however, didn’t find that to be a factor.
“We reject Robinson’s argument and affirm, concluding that an officer who makes a lawful traffic stop and who has a reasonable suspicion that one of the automobile’s occupants is armed may frisk that individual for the officer’s protection and the safety of everyone on the scene,” wrote Judge Paul V. Niemeyer.
“It is also inconsequential that the passenger may have had a permit to carry the concealed firearm,” noted Niemeyer
The implication is that anyone pulled over by police is subject to search based on nothing more than officer suspicion that a weapon is present.