Five Officers Stop Woman For Missing Sticker, Search Car For Drugs, And Then Give Back Phone After Nude Photos Allegedly Transferred By Officer

pamela-held-nude-photos-2215px-NypdpatchWe have been discussing how police are using pretext stops to search for drugs in many jurisdictions. Pamela Held, 27, of Deer Park, Long Island, has an added gripe against a NYPD officer from Queens. She says that she was pulled for a missing sticker and police used that excuse to search her car for drugs. They did not find anything, but they seized her cellphone, searched it, and she claims that NYPD Officer Sean Christian found revealing images of herself and sent them to himself. She is now preparing to sue the city.

Some states have ruled that a warrant is needed to search cellphones. However, others like California, have allowed such searches upon arrest. Of course, Held was not arrested and the stop was clearly a pretextual stop. Many civil libertarians condemned the Supreme Court in its decision in Whren v. United States, 517 U.S. 806 (1996), where it refused to consider whether a stop was clearly based on a pretext in judging the constitutionality of the later search.

Christian, 41, is under an Internal Affairs investigation stemming from Held’s complaint.

He was one of five officers in a van who stopped Held one night because of the absence of an inspection sticker. Why would a team of five officers be patrolling for sticker violations? They weren’t. This has become common since the ruling in Whren after the Supreme Court left all citizens subject to these stops and searches as part of an increasing array of expanded and potentially arbitrary police powers.

When the officers found prescription drugs, they dragged Held and her friend into the stationhouse. They demanded details on their movements that night and Held offered to show text messages showing their movements. Police took the phone while she was processed on misdemeanor drug charges.

Three hours later, she was given an appearance ticket and back her phone. She says that Christian followed her and was telling her how beautiful she is. When she later checked her phone, she found a number with all of her pictures attached. Some 20 nude pictures and five revealing pictures are forwarded. Christian denied forwarding the pictures and said that the number was actually his brother. It is unclear why that improves the situation dramatically since it is indeed his brother. He also denies ever meeting her. However, a secretly recorded call Internal Affairs detectives claim that Christian seemed quite familiar with Held and flirted with Held for 50 minutes.

By the way, the charges against Held and her friend appear headed to a dismissal. Notably, while the department is looking at the photo transfer, it is not of course looking at the pretextual stop, questionable arrest, or the search of the phone.

Source: NY Daily News

38 thoughts on “Five Officers Stop Woman For Missing Sticker, Search Car For Drugs, And Then Give Back Phone After Nude Photos Allegedly Transferred By Officer

  1. We complain to each other, but what good does that do?

    Cop abuses (abetted by the judiciary) increase and there are no consequences to those cops.

    Sometimes the responses in blogs feels like mental masturbation, fun but ultimately futile.

  2. Nice racket the government has–enact enough laws that most people are bound to be in violation of at least one and then use that violation as a pretext to conduct otherwise illegal searches and detentions. And, almost always it’s in furtherance of the war on drugs. End the war on drugs and we’ll end a huge force driving the erosion of our civil liberties. Our courts are not going to put an end to police abuse, so it’s up to the citizenry to demand action from our representatives.

    Also, stories like this always make me think police misconduct is like cockroaches. For every one you notice, there’s probably hundreds in hiding.

  3. Five bored adolescents out looking for something to do, a severe lack of understanding of just who becomes a police officer, why passing a few week course and getting a badge and a gun does not equal maturity and wisdom, why the police department must be constantly educated, monitored and held accountable. This officer has violated an individual’s basic rights. Even if she consented it doesn’t change the level of stupidity of the officer. This person is carrying a gun and out there. How will he respond when the situation is truly serious. He should be either fired or suspended with serious education.

  4. Some things never cease to amaze me….. now, what is/are the actual damages…… I think that they, the cops know these are hard to prove and will proceed…..full speed ahead…. damn the torpedo’s……

  5. A smart phone app that gives an extra level of security to private data would make the developer a lot of money. Such an app probably exists, I just don’t have a smart phone.

  6. “She says that she was pulled for a missing sticker and police used that excuse to search her car for drugs. They did not find anything, but they seized her cellphone, searched it, and she claims that NYPD Officer Sean Christian found revealing images of herself and sent them to himself.” (Jonathan Turley)

    Correction:

    While I agree with the article and much of what’s been said in the comments, the following should be noted:

    “The cops found prescription drugs in the car, so the officers, including Christian, hauled Held and her pal to the stationhouse.

    When cops began grilling her about her whereabouts that night, Held told them she was visiting a friend and had text messages to prove it. She gave one officer the security code to open her phone and pointed out the messages. Then police left the room, with the phone, while she was processed on misdemeanor drug charges.”

    And what Ken said, with the exception of “suspended with serious education.” The “officer” needs to be fired. Period.

  7. In NYS driving without an inspection sticker is not a criminal offense, although one can be given a traffic ticket. It is such a minor offense that if you can take your car in for inspection the next day and bring that to court the fine will not be imposed in almost all cases. You are normally told that by the police. They had no probable cause to search the van, find the drugs and arrest this woman. Officer Christian’s further action were only the icing on a rotten cake, to use a bad analogy.

  8. I have to agree, though we don’t have all the information here, that the only violation committed here by the police was the sending of the nude photos, which is outrageous in itself.

    There is mention of the drugs being prescription drugs. Yet there might still be a crime involved with these since it it illegal to possess prescription drugs that are not prescribed for the individual (or other excptions such as caretakers or medical personnel) Oxycontin and others are widely abused hence the statute. That said this is a statute that most people can at some time be guilty of, such as borrowing the car and the mother has meds in the glove box or such). WA even has a law that makes it a misdemeanor to place prescription meds in a container that lacks the prescription label. So technically those prescription med pillboxes that are labeled for each day a week for people to take their dailys are illegal. Silly, but nobody I have heard of has ever enforced it.

    As for the officer who is alleged to have mailed his brother the nudie photos, he’s in hot water over that for sure. I wonder if he might claim the woman here consented to the police searching the phone to show that she was at her friends’ house? But it’s not going to fly with sending them out to others.

  9. So HOW do we impeach the Supreme Court and get rid of incompetent members?!?

    They have made a LOT of bad calls lately….a LOT!!

  10. Nal,
    I don’t have a smartphone either, but both my daughter and granddaughter do. After reading this story and others like it, I have decided to buy an encryption app for both of them. There are a number of good encryption apps available.

    This sort of thing is exactly why I have a flip phone with no fancy features. It will take pictures, but the only two pictures on it are of a motorcycle for sale that I emailed to a relative who was in the market to buy one. If I do ever decide to get a smart phone, it will have a strong password and 128 bit encryption. And if I ever take any videos or photos with it, it will upload in real time to the Cloud, making it impossible for a third party to delete anything by taking the SIM card.

    Here is a link to some up-to-date reviews for apps. I note the top-rated one is Kapersky. My son tells me that is a good one for both smart phone and portable computer devices, because it meets the very stringent HIPAA requirements for encoding patient data.

    http://mobile-encryption-software-review.toptenreviews.com/

  11. Well John, first thing we would need to do is catch one them committing some type of financial indiscretion, like failing to disclose income or a large financial gift given to a family member. Then, we take those falsified financial disclosure forms and…oh wait a minute. Never mind. Yeh, you pretty much need to catch one in the act of murder.

  12. Allysa J: Right you are. During the days of the old Soviet Union, there was a Russian joke that stated that it was impossible for a citizen to walk across Red Square without committing at least three felonies and five misdemeanors. Looks like we’re headed in the same direction.

  13. Kraaken:

    Oddly, I can personally vouch for that Russian joke. When I was at Red Square around 1984 and in line to go into Lenin’s Tomb, a police officer kicked out a guy in my group (presumably because he was wearing clothing they considered disrespectful). He then wandered around Red Square to pass time and got arrested for going into a “restricted area”.

    Also, the way it is with cars, probably 90% of them can be pulled over within a couple of miles of following due to some chippy equipment violation or moving violation. That is where the pre-text stop comes into play. My state (WA) would not allow the traffic stop with these NYC officers as being lawful. In fact, a 5 officer anti-crime unit stopping someone for a inspection sticker would not fly here as it would be considered an illegal pre-text stop.

  14. Darren,
    Great perspective. In my college days, I used to drive an old, VW Microbus and while home in Skokie during the summer, the police would regularly stop me and they would always use the excuse that I had a license plate light not working. One time when I was stopped, and while the officer’s partner circled my van shining a flashlight in the windows, I told the officer that I was happy that this rusty vehicle was still running. I was not ever ticketed for the license plate light issue. It was just a pretext to do a visual search of my van.

  15. Raff,

    I too have a VW van….. Took the middle bench seats out…. But I was up scale….. I had a top unit AC…..

  16. Dna tests can be run on the minute sticker scraping debris to see which one of the Christian-Team of Officers scraped her sticker off so Pamela Held could be Held 2 B potentially Held during on-going co-operation…….
    “SORRY THE SUPREME DEVILS MADE ME DO IT”

  17. type in injustice everywhere and go to cato institue for updates daily on crimes committed by cops.. for dv abuse go to

    behind the blue wall and then click the links from both sites to go to others and find out what the lms doesnt want us to know about the finest and bravest

  18. People that made nudity in the minds of men deserve to feel the sting of those unjust laws. Maybe they will change their tune not having the body God made to be seen as bad thing anymore not calling it indecent.

  19. And this prevert still works for the department why?

    I will concede that people that keep such things on their mobile devices are just foolish in the extreme.

    Did I tell you the one about my leaving a stack of ‘personal’ photos on a table and noticing, later, a guest looking through them? LOL, my bad, didn’t do that again. But since they were low-tech they couldn’t be sent to potentially countless friends of friends either; keep that stuff in a drawer/behind encryption etc.

  20. There is a difference between a Bad cop, and a Good cop. A bad cop goes home, and he is satisfied with the work he had done for the day. Who cares if a few constitutional rights got violated. Or a “maybe” innocent person was arrested. As long as he can justify the arrest. (With very broad latitude) It’s the courts problem to handle the details. In his mind it’s us against them, and he’s putting food on his table.

    A good cop goes home and he’s grateful if he did not have to arrest someone that day. He’s grateful if he did not have to draw his weapon that day. He would consider it a blessing if there was no need for law enforcement, and he could look to other pursuits. But as long as there is a need. He knows it is his fundamental duty to protect, and serve all peoples. To safeguard lives and property; to protect the innocent against deception, the weak against oppression or intimidation, and the peaceful against violence or disorder; and to respect the Constitutional rights of all peoples to liberty, equality and justice.

  21. I met a woman who was imprisoned because her car registration expired and she couldn’t afford bail. She let the sticker expire because she didn’t have the $ to renew it.

  22. Welcome to Police State America.

    Please let the rest of us know when you are ready to throw it out. I would not wait long however as technology will eventually make it rather difficult.

  23. autos.yahoo.com/news/most-egregious-states-speeding-tickets-us

    The most egregious states for speeding tickets in the US

    Back in 2005, Vincent Gillespie got a $15 parking ticket in Northampton, Massachusetts, a bucolic community in the Connecticut River Valley in Central Massachusetts. In order to fight the ticket, Gillespie had to pay $319.90 in filing fees with the Hampshire County Superior Court, which was non-refundable whether he won his case or not. His case went to the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial court, where Gillespie’s lawyers argued that the fees effectively negated his constitutional right to due process. In its ruling, the SJC noted that the plaintiffs hadn’t met the burden of proof that the laws weren’t in keeping with the state constitution, and that the fee system serves the purpose of discouraging “the filing of nonmeritorious appeals,” thus conserving scarce judicial resources.

  24. At least one judge is reasonably honest.

    http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2013/07/judge-orders-1-million-returned-to-exotic-dancer/

    A federal judge has ruled that Nebraska cops must return over $1 million confiscated at a traffic stop from a woman who saved the money $1 at a time during her 15 year career as an exotic dancer.

    The money belongs to Tara Mishra, 33, of Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., who began putting aside her earnings when she started dancing at age 18, according to an opinion U.S. District Judge Joseph Bataillon wrote last week. The money was meant to start her business and get out of the stripping business, the judge wrote.

  25. Allyssa J. is so right about cockroaches. Police misconduct is rampant in many states, and they get away with it often enough to believe they are immune from all accountability.

    I am assisting a young man who was wrongly charged and wrongly convicted based on police misconduct and public defenders who presume all defendants are guilty and the most they need do is convince the accused to plead guilty. He will be filing within the next few weeks and I expect he will be exonerated in part due to numerous violations of his constitutional rights, in part due to lack of evidence against him, and in part due to ineffective representation. Since I am not an attorney, my efforts on his behalf will make a mockery of the public defender’s office in the state that prosecuted him. And further expose police misconduct, possibly encouraging others who were victims of this officer to file for post-conviction relief. (I suspect this incident is not the only time he did this to an innocent person.)

  26. The serve and protect is a lie. Jesus in us protects the soul. Police protect their skin. What do they do when faced with that? They use what people see as power – wrath. All know what is used. James:1 20 – 21, for the wrath of man worketh not the rightiouness of God. Whearfor lay apart all filthyness ,and superfluidy of naugtyness. Not flattering words. They are descriptive. Police and the servant of the high priest are in action the same. K J V Col: 3:9 :Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds. Police are accomplished liars.

  27. Yea, right, protect. Have a person walking nude anywhere in public is seen like a foreign invader in the body with the -policeman acting like a white blood cell trying to neutralize the naked person. The furries are in constant fear of a nude police man hauling them off to jail fining them if a person under the age of 18 sees a part that is called naughty. James:1 20 – 21, for the wrath of man worketh not the rightiouness of God. Whearfor lay apart all filthyness ,and superfluidy of naugtyness.
    PROVERBS 6:12
    A naughty person, a wicked man, walketh with a froward mouth.
    Proverbs 17: 4,A wicked doer giveth heed to false lips; and a liar giveth ear to a naughty tongue.Jeremiah 24,2,One basket had very good figs, even like the figs that are firt ripe: and the other basket had very naughty figs, which could not be eaten, they were so bad.
    Samual 17,28 :And Eliab his eldist brother heard when he spake unto the men: and Eliab’s anger was kindled against David, and he said why camist thou left those few sheep in the wilderness? I know thy pride: and the naughtness of thine heart heart: for thou art come down that thou mightest see the battle.
    AS you can see religions lied as to what naughty is influencing human law teaching cops to do what they do like the person arresting Jesus. It is a perfect fit. People growing a specific plant are not bothering anyone but they are likewise attacked by people said to be protectors. Yea right tell me another one. People having of all things sex where people could see them are attacked with guilt too.
    People with their pets are not safe either. People are constantly having of police shooting their pets acting like they are justified standing in a proud militarily posture.t
    I bet the prison arresting Jesus was thinking the same thing; trying to do his best.
    Yea,.. marching orders. Sounds more and more like the military. They use the same words. Sargent is another military word.
    The legal sytem is arbitrary. It does not have Jesus in it. What else would you expect?
    Cops have always been warriors of the demonic kind.
    The law of man is his wisdom.
    1 Corinthians 3:19:
    Why is the wisdom of man foolish?
    It is because they do what Gods word say people should not do.
    Romans 2:1:
    Police have no excuse standing before God.
    The human has a crime so bad in their body that their body dies.
    They have blood in their body. Jesus had blood in his body for a time. That is why he did tot throw a stone. Can humans be smarter than they have been in the past.?
    4:33, People-have to wake up. People are not free at all. This country is built on bondage. The many over crowded Jails are a testament to that fact.
    Law enforcement. Jesus is not about reinforcement.

  28. Funny thing happened this week. My youngest got a speeding ticket. I was with her and did not notice our speed. There is a small community near here that has a reputation for their speed traps. They put up speed cameras on a busy highway near a nearby NASCAR race track. The speed drops abruptly from 55 to 45, and the speed zone is not well marked with warning signs as required by state law. The cameras were generating hundreds of thousands in revenue for the city. A judge made them turn the speed cameras off because of the signage issue. So, patrols have been stepped up to compensate for the loss of revenue from the cameras.

    My daughter got a speeding ticket for doing 56 in a 45 zone. She was speeding and that was fair. However, the officer told her she could attend the driver education class and not have points put on her license, which would have jacked up her insurance rates. When we got to city hall, the clerk told her she had to pay for the ticket ($90) plus over a hundred dollars for the class. The town where I live waives the ticket if a first time offender takes the class, and the class is only about $25. So she is soaked for almost two hundred dollars. This is where it gets interesting. Neither of us knew the officer who pulled her over. However, a few days before, she had been approached by the department’s training Sergeant about coming up there to work as a Reserve officer part time. We both know it was not the clerks fault, and not the officers fault. The officer did what he was supposed to do, and was a perfect gentleman when talking to her. The clerk was also polite. They are employees and are doing what the city council and mayor tell them to do. However, she is going to let the police chief and training Sergeant know she does not want to be associated with a community that places money grubbing above all else. They recently have asked me to do new hire evaluations for them, and I think I need to look closely at my fee structure.

    Several months ago, the mayor and police chief did not pay attention to the email notices their web site was expiring. At the same time, a disgruntled motorist who had gotten a ticket from one of those cameras was a web designer and had been keeping an eye on the domain name. The minute it expired, he was ready with his credit card and bought the police department domain name right out from under them. When anyone Googles the city police department, they get his web site instead. He has turned it into a forum for ragging that community, not to mention other speed traps around the country.

    Throw a rock in a pond and the ripples can spread widely.

  29. ” That said this is a statute that most people can at some time be guilty of, such as borrowing the car and the mother has meds in the glove box or such).”

    On a regular basis I pick up, pay for, and transport prescriptions to family members who find it difficult to shop for themselves.

    The practice of having family members and others pick up prescriptions not for themselves is so common that Walmart has an electronic form that the purchaser signs pledging that the purchaser will respect confidentiality.

    I have no sympathy for substance abuse related to prescription medicine.

    But laws criminalizing the mere possession of prescriptions for others is simply bad law that unfairly penalizes both those who depend on the help of others and those who offer assistance to loved ones.

    Just another example of the hysteria of our drug laws.

  30. The laws of men arresting people is a I caught you mentality. That caught you mentality was played out against God in the flesh with blood in him who is Jesus Christ. Jesus is not against Jesus. In other words Jesus did not create the idea police in the minds of people.Police oppress the widow and the fatherless. One of the sins of Sodom and Gomorrah. Read Isaiah 1, King James version.

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