The Ankeny, Iowa, Police Department Chief has publicly apologized after an officer from the department made a highly questionable attempt to search a resident’s car.
The officer first pulls over the motorists for having a blown headlight. The officer writes the man a ticket for the headlight and hands it to him. But before letting the motorist leave, the officer strikes up an unexpected conversation.
“You play Frisbee golf?” the officer asks.
“I do actually,” the man responds. “I play out at Heritage Park.”
“Okay,” the officer replies. “I need you to answer me a question. Why is it that everybody that plays Frisbee golf smokes weed?”
“No, it’s not everyone,” the man says.
“It’s everybody, man,” the officer quips back. “You can’t tell me you never smoked weed.”
“I’m not gonna tell you one way or another,” the man responds.
“See, there you go,” the officer says. Then, the officer tries to make a move. “How much weed do you have in your car today?” he asks.
The driver denies he has any marijuana on him or in his car. Then, the officer takes it a step further and asks to search the man’s car, saying, “You wouldn’t have a problem with me looking through your car?”
“Actually, I would,” the driver responds. “Just because I have a disc golf bag doesn’t mean that every disc golfer does have weed.”
The two exchange words for a few more moments. During their conversation, the officer argues that the man admitted to having weed on him, when in fact he hasn’t. Here’s video of the conversation:
WHO-TV reached out to Drake Law professor Robert Rigg for comment on the stop. Rigg says the officer’s actions were illegal under Iowa law.
“What the officer did after that was try to extend that stop into a general search of the defendant’s car, or the individual’s car. That’s not permissible anymore,” Rigg says. “The Iowa Supreme Court has held that under the Iowa constitution you can’t convert an equipment violation stop into a general search, and any consent that would have been given would have been invalid in any event.”
The city of Ankeny says they are investigating the incident and released a statement on the stop saying, “This verbal exchange did not meet the level of professionalism expected of Ankeny police officers. Ankeny Police Chief Gary Mikulec respectfully apologizes for the officer`s demeaning statement.”