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Soukaneh v Andrzejewski - Legal firearm possession is not evidence of illegal possession


Euler
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In the Federal District Court of Connecticut:

 

Ruling

Quote

...
Plaintiff had stopped his vehicle with the engine running in an attempt to unfreeze his iPhone GPS, which was located in a holder mounted to the dashboard. ... The dark and high-crime area where Plaintiff stopped his vehicle was well-known for prostitution, drug transactions, and other criminal activity. ... As Plaintiff was attempting to fix his phone, Defendant approached his vehicle, knocked on the driver's side window, and requested Plaintiff's license. ... Plaintiff handed Defendant his license and gun permit, which he removed from the back of his sun visor. ... At the time Plaintiff handed over his license and gun permit, he told Defendant that he was in possession of a pistol, which was located in the driver's side compartment door. ... Defendant handcuffed and searched Plaintiff, and Defendant forcibly moved Plaintiff to the back of his police car.
...
Defendant contends that that the initial stop of Plaintiff's car was justified by his reasonable suspicion of unlawful activity and that the subsequent searches and seizures of Plaintiff's person, the cabin of his car, and the trunk of his car were all supported by probable cause given that Plaintiff disclosed he had a weapon in the vehicle.
...
Defendant conceded at oral argument that his conduct following the initial stop and check of Plaintiff's driver's license exceeded the bounds of a Terry stop, but that the conduct was still justified because he had probable cause to believe Plaintiff was possessing a firearm without a permit as he had not yet been able to verify the validity of the permit.
...
Indeed, it is undisputed that Plaintiff told Defendant that he had a pistol in the driver's side door compartment at the time he handed his driver's license and pistol permit to Defendant. ... And in his deposition, Plaintiff stated that when he handed his license and permit to Defendant, he said, "That's my license and including [sic] my pistol permit, I have a pistol on me." ... In the absence of any articulable reason for Defendant to believe the permit was counterfeit or otherwise invalid, there is no indication that Plaintiff was even arguably unlawfully possessing a firearm. In light of the uncontested fact that Plaintiff presented his pistol permit to Defendant before or at the time he disclosed that he was in possession of a pistol and the absence of any other indicia that Plaintiff was otherwise violating the statute, no reasonable officer could believe probable cause was present. Any contrary holding "would eviscerate Fourth Amendment protections for lawfully armed individuals" by presuming a license expressly permitting possession of a firearm was invalid.
...
Because, on the record read in the light most favorable to the non-moving party, no reasonable police officer could have believed he or she had probable cause to arrest Plaintiff, the Court denies summary judgment on the lawfulness of the de facto arrest and declines to immunize the officer on this record.
...

 

TL;DR:

A guy driving in Connecticut pulled over in a shady part of town, because the GPS on his iPhone froze. When a cop driving by demanded his license, he included his concealed carry license and informed the cop that he had a pistol in the car with him. The cop arrested him for illegal firearm possession, citing probable cause that the carry license was invalid. While the judge ruled that the cop could ask the guy his business, the cop had no cause to presume that the carry license was invalid and that a disclosed firearm was illegal, because if legally possessing a firearm was considered evidence of a crime, it would nullify both the second and fourth amendments.

 

CT has no obligation to disclose.

 

It will be interesting to see how far this one goes. The underlying issue is that the guy (Soukaneh) is suing the cop (Andrzejewski) for violating his civil rights, and the judge ruled that the cop doesn't have civil immunity. This ruling basically says that the suit can move forward.

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So his lawyer had to teach him this line. 
 

Defendant conceded at oral argument that his conduct following the initial stop and check of Plaintiff's driver's license exceeded the bounds of a Terry stop, but that the conduct was still justified because he had probable cause to believe Plaintiff was possessing a firearm without a permit as he had not yet been able to verify the validity of the permit.

So why not arrest him for driving on a revoked license as he hadn’t had time to see if his DL was valid, better give him a dui without verifying cause he hadn’t had the time to check that yet either.

 

That officer needs to find a new line of work, the community deserves better! 

 


 

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  • 1 month later...

Andrzejewski (the cop) filed an appeal with the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals on 24 August. He's being represented by the corporate counsel of the City of Waterbury. Whichever side loses, the next step is the US Supreme Court. I think I'd love to see Andrzejewski and the City of Waterbury try, but I can easily imagine every police union in the country trying to talk them off the ledge if they do.

 

CA2 Case Docket

Unfortunately, case documents are not free to download.

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  • 1 month later...
On 9/16/2021 at 6:11 AM, Kaeghl said:

Now if only all the LEO agencies would let their own unruly children know what could happen to LEOs that still have the "We're the ONLY ones...." syndrome.

There is a good chance this traffic cop is going to cost his department and city a lot of money for his attitude.

 

 

Not only that, but instead of the cop obtaining legal counsel on his own or through the union, the city themselves is representing him.  Hard to argue there's only a few rotten apples when the city itself is throwing in their legal resources to assist.

 

I've been watching lots of audit videos and getting more familiar with the legalities of cop stops.  In particular even for stop and identify states, a cop can't demand/compel you to provide identity on a whim.  Only if arrested or detained for reasonable suspicion of a crime.  It's not the driver's fault that sizable chunks of your dumpy city is full of crime and prostitutes, let alone being aware of this, as he was out of town.  Certainly not justified in violating several of his civil rights.  Not to mention the cop losing all impartiality in conducting this stop as a fishing exercise primarily because the driver got lost in a dumpy part of your city--i.e. even if not immediately obvious, let's keep looking unconstitutionally until I find something illegal, or if necessary assumed to be illegal, expired.  Not sure anyone can argue that, assumed to be illegal/expired without validating first could ever possibly be construed as reasonable...

Edited by hceuterpe
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