National

After Scooby the dog sniffed out weed, Kansas sued a Toyota pickup. The truck won

File photo

The state of Kansas can’t take a Toyota pickup and $84,000 from a man caught with marijuana, because the arresting officer improperly extended a traffic stop to give his police dog, “Scooby,” time to sniff out the pot, an appellate court has decided.

The ruling was handed down Friday in the case of State of Kansas and Geary County Sheriff’s Department vs. One 2008 Toyota Tundra, $84,820 in U.S. Currency, more or less, and approximately 11.9 grams of marijuana.

The truck, money and marijuana were named as defendants because the case was for civil forfeiture of the property, not criminal charges against the driver or passenger.

The two men were stopped for having a partially obstructed Ohio license plate. The judges reviewed the video and ruled Geary County Sheriff’s Sgt. Christopher Ricard had enough information to deal with that violation in the first four minutes of the stop and should have let the men go then.

Ricard testified he suspected the men were transporting drugs because they said they were going to Las Vegas.

So he asked his dispatcher to run a full criminal background check.

“About 7:25 into the video of the stop, (Geary County Sheriff’s Sgt. Christopher) Ricard conducted an exterior dog sniff of the truck with Scooby,” the court ruling said. “At the 8:54 mark, what did Scooby do? Scooby indicated the presence of drugs at the truck’s rear passenger-side corner of the tailgate area.”

The owner of the truck, Ryan Boyle, challenged the forfeiture as the result of an unconstitutional search.

The trial judge agreed and the appeals court upheld his ruling.

“The time it took for dispatch to conduct a criminal history check, which in turn gave Scooby time to conduct a dog sniff, impermissibly extended the duration of the stop,” the court ruled. “We agree with the district court’s conclusion that the seizure that occurred during the dog sniff violated the Fourth Amendment, and the evidence must be suppressed.”

Dion Lefler: 316-268-6527, @DionKansas

  Comments