Court Raps Cops for Letting Drunk, High Informant Speed

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An appeals court sharply criticized Indiana State Police on Thursday for conducting an “outrageously dangerous” traffic stop by knowingly encouraging an informant under the influence of drugs and alcohol to speed through a small town, the Indianapolis Star reports.

The case stems from a June 2002 traffic stop in Orange County. David Turner told Indiana State Police he’d been drinking all day and on cocaine, but a trooper put him behind the wheel anyway to nab his passenger, Richard W. Osborne, on drug charges.

Osborne was taken to jail. Turner, who was driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs, was taken home.

Thursday, a three-judge panel of the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled the traffic stop unconstitutional because the police used unreasonable and dangerous means to trap Osborne. The judges rebuked the police for flouting Indiana’s public policy and encouraging drunken and drugged driving.

The State Police are reviewing the decision and the facts of the traffic stop, said spokesman Lt. Scott Beamon, who said he didn’t know if State Police supervisors were notified of this traffic stop in 2002.

Beamon said this kind of traffic stop is not acceptable under State Police policy.

Research by the appeals court “revealed no case in any American jurisdiction” like this one, Judge John G. Baker wrote.

As a result of Thursday’s decision, the cocaine found on Osborne during the traffic stop can’t be used to prosecute him on possession-of-cocaine charges, which carry a maximum prison sentence of eight years. Osborne never stood trial on the charges because attorneys have been arguing over the legality of the traffic stop.

Link: http://www.indystar.com/articles/5/132570-3415-092.html

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