Cops Total BMW Looking for Marijuana That Never Was
I’ve heard of someone’s drug-related past causing problems later in life, but seriously?
On September 23rd, Darren Richardson was pulled over by the Pompton Lakes, New Jersey police department, reportedly after almost causing a traffic accident. When Lt. Moises Agosto's police dog did a cursory check of Richardson’s 6-year-old BMW 325i, it was determined that the vehicle had a “strong odor of raw marijuana” eminating from its trunk. Lt. Agosto called to have the vehicle impounded for further inspection.
I can understand the initial concern, given that Richardson, 28, had previously served two years in prison over an earlier drug charge. Richardson himself admits that he “doesn’t trust cops” and had argued a bit with Lt. Agosto. “The way they were acting, their whole demeanor, and the way I was antagonizing them,” said Richardson, “I knew they were going to mess with me.”
Richardson and his passenger were initially handcuffed and jailed for evidence tampering and resisting arrest - likely based on their forceful arguing with Lt. Agosto. Richardson’s passenger further received charges of terrorist threats. These serious charges were later downgraded to disorderly conduct.
I’m sure Richardson never expected what he saw, three weeks later, when he was called to pick up his BMW. The car’s instrument panel and dashboard were missing, and the gearshift had been literally torn from its housing. Car seats had been cut into. In fact, so much damage had been done to the BMW by three separate police agencies (and a federal drug task force agent) that Richardson’s insurance company, GEICO, has declared the vehicle totalled.
So, given the estimated $12,636.42 in damage done tearing apart Richardson’s car for pot, what did law enforcement find?
Nothing. Not one wrapped bundle of Maui Wowie, or a single seedy brick of Skunk Weed. Not one dime baggie or even a half-smoked joint of backyard bud. Nada.
Understandably, last week Richardson filed a claim against the police department, and GEICO is within its rights to follow suit with their own case. Pomptom Lakes officials have stated that they initially tried to compensate Richardson directly; however, once GEICO got involved, things got complicated.
“This is a great illustration of the costs of this kind of law enforcement,” said New Jersey ACLU Executive Director Deborah Jacobs. Other law enforcement and legal experts agree that the Pompton Lakes Police Department search was overzealous, to say the least. An internal affairs investigation of the Department’s practices has been launched.