Indiana Appeals Court rules that a concealed handgun permit is not sufficient cause for a search
Police may not search a vehicle merely because its driver has been issued a valid concealed carry permit, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled on Thursday. A three-judge appellate panel weighed the actions of Indianapolis Police Officer Danny Reynolds who pulled over Melvin Washington for driving with a burned-out headlight on September 17, 2008 at 12:30am.
On that morning, Reynolds first asked Washington whether he had a gun, and Washington said he had one under his seat. Washington also carried a valid concealed carry permit. At this point, Reynolds ordered Washington out of the car and handcuffed him so that he could conduct a search under the seat of Washington's vehicle. Reynolds spotted a small bag of marijuana and issued Washington a court summons and a ticket for the defective headlight. Washington was then released with his handgun placed in the trunk of his vehicle, unloaded.
Washington moved to have the evidence against him suppressed because the warrantless search, he argued, violated the Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable searches. A lower court disagreed, insisting that "officer safety" justified the search. The court of appeals did not buy the safety argument. . . .
A copy of the court's decision is here.