New Jersey police forcibly search man's genitals and anal cavity for weed during traffic stop
Cases of police brutality and excessive use of force in the US are quite well documented, but what about those instances where a citizen has had their rights violated but got little attention because he was not necessarily harmed? New Jersey resident Jack Levine had to suffer through the indignity of a cavity search by the police officers in broad daylight in front of moving traffic just because they thought he smelled of marijuana.
The incident which occurred on March 8, 2017, shows the two troopers, identified as Joseph Drew and Andrew Whitmore, stop Levine alongside a Burlington County Road and forcibly search his person despite his vehement protests and denials that he had no weed on him.
Captured on the microphone and body cameras of the officers, the video was recently released and shows blatant power tripping by the pair in the desperate hope that their misguided intuition that the man had weed on him was true. As the footage begins, Whitmore explains to Levine that the odor of marijuana gave them 'PC,' which he clarifies means probable cause. He asks whether Levine understands what's going on and when he doesn't respond, goes to his partner.
Whitmore asks Drew if he smelled anything in Levine's car, claiming that after he had put the accused in cuffs and confined him to the police car, it had begun smelling of marijuana as well. He continues to assert that Levine has marijuana on him, refusing to let go of the possibility.
The two then head towards Levine, bring him out of the car and begin patting him down. Levine, clearly uncomfortable at this point, asks whether they had previously stopped anyone for just smelling like weed, to which Drew threateningly responds with: "If you think this is the worst thing I'm going to do to you right now, you have another thing coming, my friend."
As the search continues, Levine continues to protest, claiming that what they were doing was ridiculous and akin to sexual assault. Even though he repeatedly mentions that he has nothing in his pants, the pair does not relent and continue to search him.
When the officer seems to have finally completed, Levine asks the cops if he's free to go. When Drew says that he's not, Levine asks if he's under arrest, leading Drew to reply that he was because of the odor of marijuana on him.
Levine shoots back that there was no such law that allowed them to so, questioning them how he could be put under arrest. When Drew vaguely tries to pass it off as 'New Jersey law,' Levine says that there was no such thing, reasserting that he has nothing on him and that the pair were trying to scare him into a confession.
The footage cuts off to Drew putting on a pair of gloves and putting his hands into Levine's pants. Levine, who cannot believe what's happening, continues his weak objections that what they were doing was sexual assault and is told by Drew that the entire incident would be captured on his microphone and body camera.
As Drew begins in earnest, Levine incredulously says: "Did you find it? Did you find it? Yo, you guys are really ridiculous. Might as well ask me out on an f****** date." Levine can be seen uneasily squirming around as the officer fondles his privates, causing Drew to sternly warn him to not move.'
After failing to find any marijuana on Levine, the exasperated officers finally let him out of his cuffs but do not let him drive off to work. The issue him a ticket for tailgating, asking for his driver's license and other documents before the video finally cuts off.
Levine spoke up about the incident and said that the pair violated his rights with an unwarranted, intimate search. The video was uncovered by open government advocate John Paff after Levine subsequently filed a motion to extend the 90-day deadline for a tort notice, the notification a person must give a government agency before suing it in New Jersey Superior Court.
In the claim, Levine alleged that the New Jersey State Police delayed responding to his attorney's requests for dashcam videos and other recordings and that it wasn't months after the incident, when he watched the video as part of an internal affairs investigation, that he realized that both officers had violated him. He said: "It was the most humiliating experience I’ve ever been through, also due to the fact people were driving by very slowly [sic], watching him with his hands down my pants."
While his tort notion was ultimately denied, Paff says that Levine can still file a federal claim. New Jersey 10.15 reported that the New Jersey State Police were aware of the video and were preparing a statement in response to the allegations.