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Old 01-05-2012, 02:38 PM   #1  
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Default Something Hard And Unnatural At SeaTac

From Seattle PI:

An officer's groin search of a Sea-Tac passenger carrying 700 pills in his underwear was legal, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Thursday.
The case involved Keith Russell, who had consented to a pat-down at Sea-Tac Airport in 2010. An officer found 700 Oxycodone pills in his underwear and arrested him. Russell then filed a motion to suppress the full-body, warrantless search, saying its scope was unreasonable.

The lower court dismissed the motion.

On Thursday, the 9th Circuit affirmed that ruling, after dissecting how consensual the airport search was, and how reasonable it was for the officer to search Russell's crotch.

On Aug. 12, 2010, Port of Seattle police officer Matt Bruch had gotten a call from an Alaska Airlines ticket agent, who said a passenger named Keith Russell was acting suspiciously. The agent said Russell had paid cash for a last-minute, one-way ticket to Anchorage with no checked luggage.

Bruch learned that Russell had drug and gun-related convictions. He thought he might be a drug courier. He found Russell at the airport and said he was a police officer. He also told Russell he was "free to go" and not under arrest, before asking if he could search Russell's bag and body.

Russell consented. He spread his arms and legs to facilitate the pat-down, the court said.

Bruch later testified that he used "standard operating procedure" to frisk Russell, by starting at the ankles and working his way up. He said he squeezed Russell's shin, knee and thigh.

'Something hard and unnatural'

"When Bruch reached into Russell's groin area he 'lifted up to feel,' " wrote 9th Circuit Judge Margaret McKeown in the opinion. It is unclear what exactly was lifted up, and who did the lifting.

"After feeling something hard and unnatural, Bruch arrested Russell," McKeown wrote. The officer never reached inside the suspect's pants.

The court noted that Russell was not in custody when the search began, nor did officers have their guns drawn. Because he was not under arrest, a Miranda warning was not required. It said Russell could have refused the pat-down and that an officer wasn't required to inform him of that possibility.

"(C)onsent to a search is not necessarily involuntary, simply because officers failed to provide notice of the right to refuse," the court wrote.

The justices also studied this question: Was it reasonable for the officer to think a consensual search included a suspect's groin?

The court found that factual context was key to the question. It noted that Bruch, the officer, had specifically told Russell he was looking for drugs, and that many suspects hide drugs in hard-to-find body areas, including the crotch.

The court also found that Russell was "more than cooperative" during the search, in which he had lifted his arms and spread his legs.

"He never objected, expressed any concern, nor did he revoke consent or call a halt to the search, nor did he complain to the officer after the fact," the justices wrote.

To make his case, Russell had relied on another court's 1989 ruling that said consent to search didn't mean consent to groin frisking. That decision involved officers who had randomly stopped suspects and had immediately searched their groins.

But the Sea-Tac case was different, the 9th Circuit said. It said Bruch, the arresting officer, had reason to stop Russell and that he had begun at the ankles.

"This distinction is crucial - the extra time gave Russell an opportunity to withdraw or limit his consent," the court wrote.

"Bruch also testified that it would be "intrusive and embarrassing" and "(not) good," to simply walk up and grab the genital area without cause."

Russell pleaded guilty to one count of possessing Oxycodone with intent to distribute last January. He was sentenced to more than six years in prison.

Visit seattlepi.com's home page for more Seattle news. Contact Vanessa Ho at 206-448-8003 or [email protected], and follow her on Twitter as @vanessaho.





Read more: Court OKs Sea-Tac crotch search - seattlepi.com
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Old 01-05-2012, 02:42 PM   #2  
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Is that a roll of pills in your pants or are you just happy to see me?
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Old 01-06-2012, 08:15 AM   #3  
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Hey Cheech, do these pills like taste funny to you?



Yeah man. That taste like schit, you know?





Hint: next time, maybe put them in front. (old potato joke)
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