Every day, the rights of the American people are being attacked. There is not one item on the Bill Of Rights, be it free speech or personal privacy, which has not been mauled and ignored by authorities. Now, one of the most horrendously humiliating abuses heard about in quite some time has arisen, as the Philadelphia Inquirer reported today.
South Hampton, New Jersey, State Trooper Joseph Drew is seen on body-cam conducting actions so foul and openly disrespectful that it defied logic. He strip-searched a male driver on the side of the road. After claiming to smell marijuana but finding none, the man originally pulled over for mere tailgating was handcuffed and told to step away from the vehicle.
From there he was violated, according to reports.
“You can tell me where it is right now or I can go in and get it,” Drew threatened. Then, the officer in the footage is seen putting on blue latex gloves and reaching into the suspect’s underwear. He gropes the driver’s “genitals and buttocks while the two stand on Route 206 in Southampton, Burlington County,” even as the driver voiced his protests.
While strip-searches are sometimes allowed once a warrant has been obtained, to conduct this kind of search as cars were passing by is a violation of civil rights… even in New Jersey.
The operator of the vehicle was 23-year-old Tom River, a man who said that he feels that the search was not legal in any way.
Making matters worse was the fact that no drugs were found in the car or his person, not even once the law officer had felt all over his body without permission to do so. River was issued a ticket for tailgating, something that only added to the insult already sustained.
The driver “has filed notice of intention to sue, alleging that he was sexually assaulted and that his civil rights were violated.” Considering what he endured, it is very likely that he will win his case, too.
The video is hard to watch because the man keeps protesting and saying that he is being sexually assaulted as the footage plays. For four minutes, the man has his genitals and private areas gone over by another man on the side of the road, something that many feel is a clear breach of the 4th Amendment.
The cop was quite arrogant about his blatant abuse.
“If you think this is the worst I’m going to do, you have another thing coming, my friend,” declared Drew.
Author Maria Haberfeld is a professor of policing and police ethics at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. She found fault with what the video shows and said, “To reach into someone’s underwear, it has to be for a really good reason, not for marijuana.”
She added, “In the times when marijuana has been legalized in state after state, this is some kind of erratic police behavior — and it’s very much about discretion, so even if you can do things, should you be doing them?”
The search took place on March, 8, and is being investigated by the State Police Internal Affairs. It is alarming to many that “Drew and a backup trooper, Andrew Whitmore” are still working patrol until the outcome is known.
“It was extreme, in my view, because of the cavalier attitude, the way this cop acted,” said John Paff, who heads New Jersey Libertarians for Transparency, adding “This is outrageous.”
Lt. Theodore Schafer, a state police spokesman, has refused to comment on the matter.
Showing the department likely knows that this won’t end well, Lang has been forced to file a motion ordering the police to supply the policy.
“I am not authorized to interpret the requirements and procedures, and we do not have any further comment,” stated a spokesman for the Attorney General’s office, Peter Aseltine.
Amol Sinha, Executive Director of the American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey, has noted that “probable cause” is needed for such actions as River endured to even be debated. He added that “it’s debatable whether the smell of marijuana is sufficient.” However, even the ‘probable cause’ excuse is a violation of the Fourth Amendment.
It now remains to be seen if Mr. River will be able to stop it once and for all once he gets his day in court.