Officers seized almost $50,000 in cash from a man’s car during a traffic stop in Minnesota last month. On April 11, Kearnice C. Overton and Tiffani D.S. Barber filed a petition against the Iowa City Police Department claiming that their money was wrongfully seized and demanding its return.
On March 16, Overton was driving from Davenport to St. Paul with his four children when Officer Michael Clark pulled him over on Interstate 80 for speeding.
Officers Travis Neeld and Ian Alke also responded to the incident. With Neeld and Alke was the K-9 Unit; when the dog gave a silent indicator on the vehicle, the officers proceeded to search the car.
What the officers found in the trunk was a gym bag containing $44,000. Another $4,000 was found in Overton’s jacket; both these sums of money were seized by the police.
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Overton was also cited for driving without a valid driver’s license, although he claims that he did have a valid license.
While Iowa City Police Sgt. Vicky Lalla said on Thursday that she couldn’t discuss Overton’s claims in detail, she did say that the amount of cash present on the scene is one of the factors that can affect an officer’s decision to perform a seizure.
“It’s very unusual for people to be out and about with that much cash on their person or in their car,” Lalla said.
Overton, however, denies that the money was in any way connected to criminal activity.
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He claims that Barber gave him the money earlier that month to buy property from his cousin in Rock Island, Ill. In fact, as he describes in court documents, he had already travelled to Rock Island – with the money – in early March to buy the two properties. However, the sale did not go through, and so it came to be that he had the large lump sums of cash on his person during the March 16 traffic stop.
“This money was wrongfully seized. I was not arrested, nor were any charges lodged against me in connection with this money,” Overton states in the court document.
All three officers involved in the March 16 incident were named in Overton and Barber’s petition against the police department.
The case is to be heard on May 6 at the Johnson County Courthouse.