In this case a traffic stop for following too closely leads to a call for a K9 and a K9 alert leads to a search under the Automobile Exception. The search leads to the discovery of heroin and the driver (Lewis) is arrested for possession with intent to distribute. Lewis argued that the traffic stop was not justified at its inception and that the delay for the K9 sniff was an impermissible extension of the traffic stop under the Rodriguez rule.
The Seventh Circuit disagreed with both arguments. The court held the traffic stop was justified and that the questions asked by the officer were permissible and “related to the traffic stop” and therefore the questions did not unlawfully extend the stop. Furthermore, the answers to these questions along with the nervous demeanor of Lewis combined to establish a reasonable suspicion that Lewis was involved in criminal activity. Accordingly, the reasonable suspicion was acquired during the traffic stop without a delay and therefore the stop was not unlawfully extended.
TIP: This case is a good example of how reasonable suspicion can be established during a stop (kudos to Officer Sweeney). It also demonstrates how time-marked dash camera video is being used by the defense to make the Rodriguez argument. If you are a patrol officer it is worth a read!
To read or download the full opinion CLICK HERE