The ACLU of Indiana today filed a lawsuit against Officer Joey Hancock of the Fishers Police Department, after he conducted a nonconsensual search of a family's car on their way to the Indiana State Fair.
The driver, David Stautihar, repeatedly objected to the vehicle search, knowing that he hadn’t done anything wrong, and out of concern for his 3-year-old daughter who was also in the car. Mr. Stautihar has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of his military service and was extremely worried for the well-being of his daughter throughout his interaction with Officer Hancock.
The complaint claims that after Officer Hancock had followed the vehicle for some time, he rapidly accelerated until directly behind Mr. Stautihar’s vehicle, driving so close that Mr. Stautihar feared the situation was unsafe. Mr. Stautihar turned on his right blinker and changed lanes in an attempt to allow Officer Hancock to pass him. At the end of the traffic stop, Officer Hancock claimed the stop was initiated because Mr. Stautihar did not leave the blinker on during the entirety of the lane change.
Officer Hancock then preceded to conduct an invasive vehicle search without justification or consent, and none of it yielded any evidence of drugs or other criminal activity. The Fourth Amendment does not allow for police to convert a routine traffic stop into an intrusive drug investigation.
“Drivers do not, and should not expect to be treated as drug suspects without any reason,” said ACLU of Indiana Senior Staff Attorney Gavin M. Rose. “This is happening all too often across the state of Indiana. Law enforcement needs to be aware that this is something that simply cannot be done.”
This is the second ACLU of Indiana lawsuit filed against an officer for an invasive search this week. On Tuesday, The ACLU filed a lawsuit against a Starke County deputy who conducted a similar search.