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COA splits over whether pat down after traffic stop was justified

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A majority on the Indiana Court of Appeals concluded that a trial court abused its discretion when it denied a man’s motion to suppress drug evidence found on him after police pulled him over for failing to signal a turn. But the dissenting judge believed the arresting officer had sufficient reason to think the defendant might be armed and dangerous during their encounter.

Terre Haute Police Officer Adam Loudermilk pulled over Robert L. Dixon’s vehicle after Dixon turned without signaling. Dixon pulled into a residential neighborhood, parked his car, got out of the car and began to walk away. Loudermilk ordered Dixon back to his car after threatening to use his Taser. After checking Dixon’s license and registration, Loudermilk recognized his name as a possible drug dealer. Loudermilk called for backup and decided to perform a pat-down search of Dixon. The search yielded three baggies of cocaine.

Dixon sought to suppress the drug evidence found on him, claiming the search violated the Fourth Amendment. The trial court denied his motion.

Judge Patricia Riley and Margret Robb reversed, pointing out that Loudermilk did not have any reason to believe Dixon was engaged in criminal activity at the time he pulled him over, he saw no weapon on Dixon when he was out of the car, and there were no open warrants or issues with Dixon’s identification. A Terry stop does not allow for a generalized cursory search for weapons, or any search for anything but weapons, Riley wrote.

Judge Cale Bradford dissented, pointing out that Loudermilk had credible information that Dixon might be a drug dealer. Dixon also appeared very nervous while sitting in the car, rocking back and forth and sticking his hands in his pockets. Bradford believed that the pat-down of Dixon was justified by concerns for officer safety.

The case, Robert L. Dixon v. State of Indiana, 84A01-1307-CR-339, is remanded for further proceedings.

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  1. Hello currently just withdrew from laporte county drug court and now I have lost the woman I love which also was in drugcourt and was put in jail without a,lawyer presentfor her own safety according to the judge and they told her she could have a hearing in two weeks and now going on 30days and still in jail no court date and her public defender talks like he,s bout to just sell her up the river.

  2. I just wanted to point out that Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner, Senator Feinstein, former Senate majority leader Bill Frist, and former attorney general John Ashcroft are responsible for this rubbish. We need to keep a eye on these corrupt, arrogant, and incompetent fools.

  3. Well I guess our politicians have decided to give these idiot federal prosecutors unlimited power. Now if I guy bounces a fifty-dollar check, the U.S. attorney can intentionally wait for twenty-five years or so and have the check swabbed for DNA and file charges. These power hungry federal prosecutors now have unlimited power to mess with people. we can thank Wisconsin's Jim Sensenbrenner and Diane Feinstein, John Achcroft and Bill Frist for this one. Way to go, idiots.

  4. I wonder if the USSR had electronic voting machines that changed the ballot after it was cast? Oh well, at least we have a free media serving as vicious watchdog and exposing all of the rot in the system! (Insert rimshot)

  5. Jose, you are assuming those in power do not wish to be totalitarian. My experience has convinced me otherwise. Constitutionalists are nearly as rare as hens teeth among the powerbrokers "managing" us for The Glorious State. Oh, and your point is dead on, el correcta mundo. Keep the Founders’ (1791 & 1851) vision alive, my friend, even if most all others, and especially the ruling junta, chase only power and money (i.e. mammon)

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