A Washington man has filed a federal complaint against an Idaho state trooper who he claims pulled him over because of his Colorado license plate, a state where marijuana is legal.
Darien Roseen, 70, lives in Washington state but owns a second home in Colorado, said he was stopped on Jan. 25, as he was driving across the Idaho-Oregon border along I-84, Courthouse News reported.
“He was stopped in Idaho and deprived of his constitutional rights because he was driving a car with a license plate from a state that ISP associated with marijuana,” said his attorney, Mark Coonts.
Washington and Colorado passed ballot initiatives in November 2012 to legalize marijuana and began allowing private consumption the following month.
The suit claims state Trooper Justin Kiltch followed Roseen to the parking lot of a rest stop, which made him uncomfortable.
Klitch reportedly did not immediately explain why he pulled Roseen over, but later said he did so because the older man failed to use his signal while exiting the interstate, and for bumping the curb.
Klitch argued against Roseen’s reason for pulling into the rest area, saying, “You didn't have to go to the bathroom before you saw me. ... I'm telling you, you pulled in here to avoid me. That's exactly what you did.”
The suit states that Klitch asked Roseen why his eyes appeared glassy and failed to ask for the driver’s license and proofs of registration and insurance, which he never returned. He then accused Roseen of “having something in his vehicle that he should not have.”
“After Mr. Roseen identified his possession of valid prescription medications, Trooper Klitch asked him, ‘When is the last time you used any marijuana?’ thereby assuming that Mr. Roseen had, in fact, used marijuana and inferring that he had used it recently,” according to the complaint.
Klitch repeatedly asked to search the vehicle, saying Roseen’s actions were “consistent with a person who was hiding something illegal,” but the driver declined permission.
That’s when Klitch threatened to call for a drug-sniffing dog, the suit claims.
Roseen finally consented to a search of “parts” of the vehicle, and began unpacking presents he was bringing to his daughter’s baby shower.
“When Mr. Roseen opened the trunk compartment, and despite the strong gusts of wind and precipitation that day, Trooper Klitch claimed he could smell the odor of marijuana,” the complaint states. “Mr. Roseen stated that he could not smell the odor of marijuana that Trooper Klitch claimed to be coming from the trunk compartment.”
The trooper said the aroma gave him probable cause to search the car and detain Roseen in the back of Klitch’s police cruiser, but he was not under arrest despite having his Miranda rights read to him.
Roseen’s vehicle was driven to the Payette County sheriff’s department by a Fruitland city police officer for an additional search, which found nothing, and was issued a citation for “inattentive/careless” driving.
Roseen filed a federal lawsuit against Klitch, the Fruitland police officer, a Payette County sheriff’s deputy, and the Idaho state police, claiming they violated his Fourth, Fifth and 14th Amendment Rights.
“At no point did Trooper Klitch’s line of questioning relate to Mr. Roseen’s alleged improper driving pattern,” the complaint says. “Instead, Trooper Klitch immediately accused Mr. Roseen of transporting something illegal.”