Pompton Lakes, New Jersey police pulled over Darren Richardson a few weeks ago after he supposedly narrowly avoided a collision at an intersection. During the stop they claimed to have detected “strong odor of raw marijuana,”causing them to impound his black BMW 325i. If that wasn’t bad enough, they tore his car apart looking for marijuana with drug-sniffing dogs so bad that his insurance company declared that the car was totaled.
They found nothing.
The incident has led to an internal affairs investigation by the Pompton Lakes Police Department, opened the door for litigation that could cost local taxpayers and left experts wondering whether the department wasted resources in pursuit of what many see as a minor crime.
“The root of these problems, with the drug laws, is sometimes they (police departments) can’t distinguish between the Medellin cartel and somebody smoking a spliff,” said Eugene O’Donnel, a former police officer and assistant district attorney who teaches at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in Manhattan.
Richardson, 28, of the Haskell section of Wanaque, filed a notice of claim against the department last week, seeking damages for false arrest and malicious prosecution. He also said Geico may sue the department to recoup the cost of the claim it has already paid to Richardson.
If that happens, Pompton Lakes could be forced to repay the insurance company.
I hope they really end up having to pay. This story gets worse.
In addition to trashing the car, Richardson got charged with evidence tampering and resisting arrest (because he argued with them). They charged his passenger with making “terroristic threats.” After it turned out there was no evidence to tamper with, the charges were reduced to “petty disorderly persons offenses.”
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