Trooper Drew donned his latex gloves to rummage down the young man’s pants
Joseph Drew, New Jersey State Trooper, crossed a host of ethical and professional boundaries on the pretext of having smelled weed on a driver. Drew put on a latex glove and continued to put his hand down the man’s pants rummaging around in his underwear.
Drew’s actions are being criticized as ‘appalling’ and ‘humiliating’ while others are going further and branding the search as outrightly unlawful.
Arthur Lang, a Lakewood attorney representing the driver, has complained that the state police had failed to comply with his motion to provide the video of this incident for ten months; shocking bodycam video shows officer searching the man for drugs.
The driver’s lawsuit names Drew, his support trooper, a desk sergeant who may have approved the search, and state police as the defendants.
Trooper Drew argues that he had initially stopped the young man for tailgating and only later smelled the drug while searching the vehicle – which is permitted for medical use in the state. When a thorough search of the car turned up nothing, Drew handcuffed the driver and told him to step out of the vehicle.
Exposition of Body Cam Video and Reaction
Tooper Drew’s body cam video show the incident in detail, and their conversation can be heard. “You can tell me where it is right now or I can go in and get it,’ Drew says.
The trooper is seen checking the man’s pockets and socks before ordering him to turn over whatever drugs he has.Then he continues, “If you think this is the worst I’m going to do, you have another thing coming, my friend.”
The young driver can be heard insisting several times he is not carrying marijuana, also questioning the veracity of the search. This irritates drew so he takes and pair of latex gloves from his cruiser and dons them reaching into the young man’s underwear groping his genitals parked by the side of Route 206 in Southampton, Burlington County. The young can be heard shouting ‘rape’.
After a gruelling four-minute long search, Trooper drew ticketed the driver for tailgating. As Drew walks away from the car having issued a ticket he is heard saying, “I hope you get a lot of hits on YouTube.”
State Police Internal Affairs is investigating the incident, which occurred March 8, 2017, reports The Philadelphia Inquirer.
Criticism has poured in since the video surfaced. Amol Sinha, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey, said he was appalled the search was conducted ‘on a roadside in a humiliating and undignified way’ and that the justification for that was the odor of marijuana.
New Jersey State guidelines clarify that anyone detained or arrested, but not placed in jail, may not be strip or body cavity searched without a search warrant or consent and authorization by a superior. However, exceptions can be made in emergency circumstances but such circumstances require the officer to prove probable cause ‘to believe that the person is concealing a weapon, contraband or evidence of crime.’
Maria Haberfeld, professor of policing and police ethics at John Jay College of Criminal Justice and an author of several books on the subject, says those criteria were not met in this case – not by far.
‘To reach into someone’s underwear, it has to be for a really good reason, not for marijuana,’ she said, describing the trooper’s behavior as ‘erratic’.
Drew and backup trooper Andrew Whitmore, whose body-cam footage was release, are still on patrol pending the outcome of the inquiry.