June 5, 2012
While this may sound like a story out of Nazi Germany, it actually took place in Lakeland, Florida.
Joseph Stoiber was walking in his neighborhood at 2:30am talking to a friend on his cell phone when a Lakeland police officer pulled up and began questioning him.
The officer asked Stoiber to submit to a search, at which point he refused: “And then he said, ‘Can I pat you down?” At that point I said, ‘No, [you] may not.’”
After the refusal the two argued the legality (or illegality) of the patdown.
According to the news report, next, “things got heated,” (which is another way of saying the officer got heated), and Stoiber was placed in handcuffs.
As those that have experienced similar run-ins with the law can attest, it is this sheer act of defiance and denial of search that gets police worked up. After being refused, most look for any reason to feed their power trip egos and haul you off to jail.
While Stoiber had done nothing wrong (but refuse a patdown), he had been chewing snuff tobacco and decided to spit.
At this point, the officer was likely relieved that his detainment would be justified. He placed Stoiber under arrest for the non-violent crime of spitting on a sidewalk.
The law under which police took Stoiber into custody was Ordinance 70-8, a Lakeland law stating “that it shall be unlawful for any person to spit, expectorate or deposit any sputum, saliva or mucous upon any sidewalk.”
The officer argued that he requested a search because he noticed a bulge in Stoiber’s pants and asked what he was doing in the area, but that Stoiber’s explanation didn’t sound reasonable.
In the news report, the USF college student is heard explaining that he’s an insomniac and likes staying up later.
Unfortunately, unlawful searches in the “land of the free” are a growing trend. Cops believe they have the authority to strip us of our Fourth Amendment rights whenever they feel so inclined. This, however, is a vicious violation of our Fourth Amendment. Kurt Nimmo writes:
“Probable cause under the Fourth Amendment is in effect when a person is detained or arrested and is not free to leave. Police can only detain a person when facts are sufficient to warrant an arrest or seizure of an individual.
In Gerstein v. Pugh, the court found that judicial determination of probable cause is required following an arrest. Evidence of crime and that an individual was involved in a crime is required.
A person arrested without probable cause may sue the government and the police. [emphasis added]
So what’s it going to be America?
Are you going to allow imposed curfews by roving patrols questioning anyone walking about? Will you continue to submit to unlawful searches?
Or, will you let the cops know that we know our rights and are ready to defend them?
We encourage readers to let Lakeland PD know how we feel about unlawful searches and unjust arrests. Here’s their contact page.