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Federal court disinclined to believe this police assertion

If Houdini-like powers claimed by a police officer in one state are remotely accurate, he is perhaps in the wrong profession.

Some people allegedly have one-in-a-million vision, clearly seeing things that others cannot even detect in shadowy form. Others can clearly hear people conversing in mere whispers.

And a select few – like one Indianapolis law enforcer – claim smelling prowess that is simply remarkable.

That might commonly evoke nothing more than envy and kudos among the general public, but it can also be problematic when that alleged power is cited as the catalyst for uncovering criminal behavior and effecting arrests.

It begs this question in a recently reported case: Did the officer really smell incriminating evidence that virtually every other person on the planet would miss, or was his claim of sheer smelling power actually nothing more than a pretextual excuse to conduct an unlawful search and seizure?

The material facts surrounding a notable motorist detention

Bottom line: A convicted felon was found to be carrying a prohibited handgun in his car, along with a small amount of marijuana concealed in sealed bags.

The central issue at trial: Did the arresting officer really have probable cause to stop the wrongdoer’s vehicle based on an alleged ability to smell the pot, or was his claimed sensory power just a bogus assertion?

Many police officers can unquestionably smell marijuana hidden inside a car. Not many would claim an ability to do so, though, if that car was moving and they were tailing it in their police cruiser.

A federal judge weighs in on an “incredible” police claim

The court in the above-cited matter was asked to consider the reasonableness of the officer’s probable cause claim.

The judicial response: It was anything but reasonable.

In fact, noted the court, it transcended the bounds of credibility. The judge found the heightened-smell argument both “implausible and seemingly contrary to the laws of nature.”

The key takeaway from the case stresses that a probable cause claim cited as grounds for close interaction with a citizen and a potential search and seizure of criminal evidence must not be pretextual or illusory.

The judge suppressed the collected evidence and threw out the case.