TAMPA, Fla. – A man emerged from a concert in February to find that his truck had been ransacked and torn apart, and that a small note had been left behind.
To Matthew Heller’s surprise, the note on his car was from the police.
“Sir, your car was checked by TPD K-9. The vehicle was searched for marijuana due to a strong odor coming from the passenger side of the vehicle. Any questions call Cpl Fanning,” the note read.
Heller said that the car was “all sealed up, a parked vehicle in a private parking lot” when the cops conducted their destructive search.
He noted that he was at a concert and that “there were all kinds of smells, everywhere around here.”
“You think if anyone is going to break into your vehicle in Ybor, the last person you think, it’s going to be the cops,” Heller said.
He noted that it wasn’t the search of his vehicle that upset him; instead, it was the fact that the police broke into his vehicle and caused serious damage.
“Disgusted, I’ve got my whole life savings in this truck,” Heller said. “It’s like a marketing tool for my business to promote the air horns and everything. The horns weren’t working, all the electronics were ripped out.”
The police department did not find any drugs in Heller’s truck, and he was never charged or questioned.
When asked about the search, TPD allegedly sent back an email in which they acknowledged that “while the search is legal, it is not typical. The Tampa Police Department is now reviewing the specifics of this investigation.”
Heller’s attorney, Bryant Camareno, maintains that the search was not, in fact, legal.
“It’s an illegal search,” Camereno said. The attorney noted that while some exigent circumstances allow for the legal searching of a vehicle without a search warrant, “if the car is unoccupied there is no exigency to justify the search.”
Heller and Camereno have requested TPD for documentation of the search; they have yet to hear back.
Photo Source: The Free Thought Project