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Sandra Bland, Samuel DuBose and the rise of ‘vehicular stop and frisk’

Posted by Steve Karimi | Aug 18, 2015 | 0 Comments

As police misconduct once again makes national headlines, disparate impact of vehicular stop and frisks on certain communities, once again, cannot be ignored. While my last blog discusses the general requirements and exceptions for warrantless searches, this blog discusses in greater detail the concern over what is occurring with Terry-stops.

The deaths of Sandra Bland and Samuel DuBose occurred in very different circumstances — a presumed suicide in a jail cell in Bland's case and at the hand of an officer in DuBose's. However, the incidents that led to their deaths all began with a routine traffic stop. Officer reasoning for pulling over Bland and DuBois are unclear, but legal experts claim both cases fit a pattern where minority drivers are disproportionately targeted under stop and frisk policies. Police practices that fall under this category include Terry stops, consent searches, civil asset forfeiture and pretextual traffic stops. This is concerning because these policies have given police the arbitrary discretions of searching and interrogating those they suspect of wrongdoing. A Department of Justice study issued in 2013 found that 52 percent of stops for black drivers were for minor traffic violations, versus 34 percent for white drivers. The same study showed that a black motorist is about 31 percent more likely to be pulled over than a white person behind.

Stop and Frisk Reform Policies Required in Seattle

Last year, a federal judge in Seattle approved new Seattle PD policies aimed at curbing biased policing in stop and frisk situations. The policies represent another major step in the court-ordered reform effort for the Seattle Police Department. Amongst the new policy requirements are the requirement to justify every action which impedes an individual's freedom. It specifically banned pre-textual stops (which traditionally allowed subsequent searches if police stopped someone based on a valid traffic violation, such as expired plates). The new policy also requires a supervisor to approve the documentation of every Terry stop.

Additionally as to Terry stops , the Washington Supreme Court in State v. Russell also unanimously held last year that police may only look for evidence of weapons, and not evidence of other crimes.

Given these changes which should be more than known by now, police throughout Washington have been put on notice that they do not have a free hand in seeking evidence through stop and frisk tactics. If you have been searched in violation of these new Seattle PD requirements, you may have a good case for defense.

Seattle, King County, and Snoborish County Stop and Frisk Lawyer

Seattle criminal defense lawyer Steve Karimi Karimi handles all misdemeanor and felony criminal cases, including traffic cases, stop and frisk, and improperly-seized evidence. As a former prosecutor in Seattle, Mr. Karimi will use his background and experience to help you. He understands what it is like to be on the other side and will use his experience to work out the best possible resolution for you. Do not hestitate to Contact a King County Criminal Defense Attorney if you feel you have been the subject of improper police conduct. Call 206-621-8777 to schedule a free initial consultation.

About the Author

Steve Karimi

Steve Karimi attended Pepperdine University School of Law. After graduation he worked as a prosecutor in Seattle where he gained valuable insight to the criminal justice system. Attorney Karimi uses his experiences as a prosecutor everyday only now he fights for the justice of those accused.


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If you were arrested or a loved one has been charged with a crime in Seattle or surrounding areas of Washington State, the Law Offices of Steve Karimi can help. Call 206-660-6200 24 hours a day for a free consultation.

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Named a "rising star" in criminal defense by Washington Law and Politics magazine, Mr. Karimi is a former prosecutor for King County who uses his insight into prosecution strategies to protect his clients' rights in criminal court.