Texas State Troopers Sued Over “Roadside Cavity Search” In Search of Marijuana Possession

article-2250218-1692DF35000005DC-570_634x318-620x310There is a new disturbing video (below) showing police abuse this week. The video shows a Texas state trooper performing what was claimed to be a cavity search on the roadside on suspicion of possession of marijuana. It appears that while states like Colorado are legalizing marijuana, Texas is allegedly doing cavity searches to find someone in possession of weed. I guess it should be no surprise when you are driving on the George Bush Turnpike. The two women — Angel Dobbs, 38, and her niece, Ashley Dobbs, 24 — subject to the humiliating search are now suing the police.

The search occurred on July 13 when Angel Dobbs was driving her boyfriend’s car when troopers said they had spotted Dobbs throw a cigarette butt out the window. One of the troopers identified as officer David Ferrell began to question Dobbs about where she was going and then began to question her on possible use of marijuana. Both women denied having any weed.

A second trooper, Kelley Helleson, then arrived and stated that the two women were “acting weird” and needed to be searched. Farrell claimed that he smelled pot which was then apparently the probable cause for the search of the vehicle. Helleson then says that she will be searching their “persons” and Dobb’s asked what “person” meant. While the women were asked for consent, they suddenly found themselves the subjects of what appears a cavity search on the roadside. When Dodds objected, Farrell reportedly told her that is was justified by the odor in the car because “someone is a daily smoker in that car.”

Angel Dobbs claims that Helleson irritated a preexisting condition with the search, an anal cyst, that now causes her “severe and continuing pain and discomfort.”

What is truly astonishing is that this is all over the suspicion of pot use. It also suggests that the cigarette was another pretext for a 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.

The case also shows how we continue to spend considerable resources and arrest thousands of people over marijuana use while a majority of people want such prosecutions to end.

I fail to see any probable cause for this abusive search, even under the ever-failing standards imposed by our Supreme Court.

Source: Daily Mail

68 thoughts on “Texas State Troopers Sued Over “Roadside Cavity Search” In Search of Marijuana Possession”

  1. Overheard at a Texas Thanksgiving dinner —

    “You know what’s wrong with minorities? They think there’s still racism. They just don’t get it.”

  2. “Just another example of how the 4th Amendment has been debased.

    The entire Bill of Rights is under attack – and the SCOTUS has been complicit in the assault.”

    Could not agree more. I wish I could be on the jury that hears this case.

  3. Jack Black pleasantly surprised me, he nailed that role w/o a hint of the zany Jack Black. I was pleased to see he was nominated for a Golden Globe. He won’t win, but he deserved a nomination.

  4. SWM, You mean “The Peoples Republic of Austin” as described by the hilarious character in Bernie? I know you’re better than to just give a blanket condemnation based on politics. Some here are not.

  5. First, stopping someone for throwing a cigarette out of a car is justified because in dry areas this causes many wildfires. But that said it is clear to me there is no authority to do a body cavity search on suspicion of marijuana possession alone.

    I would probably go out on a limb and say the woman officer could be possibly charged with two counts of rape. Of course some would claim that to be shocking but I don’t see it as being very different from a random civilian stranger with no legal authority to do this and an officer doing the same thing. But of course she is a government official and the system will protect her.

  6. nick, I am not saying they are not good people. When they move here they adjust very well. My husband works with quite a few of them, and they have become happy Texans like your sister. Texas works for some. Others can’t wait to get out.

  7. “Recheck your history….. Texas was one of the few states that created state Indian reservations….”

    And sometimes Texas just lied about about doing so — see:


    “Appellant, the Tonkawa Tribe of Oklahoma (“the Tribe” or “the
    Tonkawas”) brought suit against the State of Texas, its Governor
    and Land Commissioner (“the State”) to compel the State to donate
    unspecified Texas lands to the Tribe for use as a homeland, and
    seeking damages on the basis of an 1866 Act of the Texas
    Legislature. The district court granted summary judgment for the
    State. We affirm.”

    The 1866 Act — a Reconstructionist Act — promised the Tonkawas a reservation. Texas never created one. Trial court ruled that the promise to create a reservation for the Tribe was unenforceable.

    Fifth Circuit finished off its opinion thus: “We therefore decline to reach the
    [State’s] question of Eleventh Amendment immunity.”

    Of course, that “question” was whether the federal court had subject matter jurisdiction to even reach the merits of the case! And the 5th Cir. well knew that the trial court did not; it’s only permitted action was to dismiss the case without reaching the merits.

    How do we know this? The opinion begins thus: “The State’s Petition for Rehearing was granted in order to correct a factual error contained in the original opinion. That opinion, Tonkawa Tribe of Oklahoma v. Richards, 67 F.3d 103 (5th Cir. 1995) is vacated and the following opinion is substituted in its place.”

    The new opinion did correct a misstatement about which party brought which issues before the court. No biggie. But the new opinion deleted this sentence: “While we could raise the issue sua sponte because the Eleventh Amendment operates as a jurisdictional bar, Ysleta Del Sur Pueblo v. Texas, 36 F.3d 1325, 1335 (5th Cir.1994), cert. denied, — U.S. —-, 115 S.Ct. 1358, 131 L.Ed.2d 215 (1995), we do not.”

    The Ysleta case was dismissed on the 11th amendment — lack of subject matter jurisdiction. The 5th Cir. was willing to assume that the trial court possessed subject matter jurisdiction without considering the 11th Amendment issue challenging such jurisdiction.

    Why? The Indians lost on the merits. Who the hell [at least, in the 5th Cir.] would want to disturb that?

    Texas, bleh. 5th Cir., bleh.

  8. SWM, You’re absolutely correct! Republicans are evil…every darn on of ’em. Texas would be the perfect state if it was owned lock, stock and barrell by Dems. My sister was a Texas bible thumper. She did volunteer work for kids w/ reading disabilities along w/ her regular job of teaching “Shakespeare to Cowboys.” We both grew up in Ct., but she was happiest in Texas. She was a Republican but she wouldn’t talk politics or religion that much. You would have liked her..until you found out she was a “bible thumper and Republican.”

  9. Mike

    I also get aggravated with those who litter, butts or whatever. (But let’s be clear, this is outrageous).

    The answer to your query is that they didn’t really care about that, but it makes a mighty fine excuse for stopping them; and then the search for drugs, or better yet, CASH. Yessirree, they’re keeping our children safe.

  10. Florida is crazy but in a different way. Texas has far more bible thumpers and republicans.

  11. if gloves were not changed between the criminal assault on the bodies of these women, add assault with an intent to maim, injure or kill. If someone deliberately injects HIV into a person, they are prosecuted for attempted murder are they not?

    pigs ‘p’ ing on people…… (and I am not anti-police, just anti pigs…’People In Gross Stereotypical behavior Patterns’ ….

  12. Oro lee, My kids left Texas for college but my daughter came back for law school because UT is a highly ranked law school and she was offered a scholarship. It looks like we will all be leaving the south when she graduates. I am keeping my fingers crossed. I do like Austin but it is a blue bubble in a red state.

  13. Just another example of how the 4th Amendment has been debased.

    The entire Bill of Rights is under attack – and the SCOTUS has been complicit in the assault.

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