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In 2018, Basel M. Soukaneh stopped his car to check his phone in a questionable area of Waterbury, Connecticut. When he was approached by a police officer, he presented his driver’s license and pistol permit, notifying the cop that he had a gun in the car.

The officer then frisked and cuffed Soukaneh and put him in the back of his patrol car while he searched the entire car. A flash drive and $320 in cash were confiscated. Soukaneh sued Officer David Andrzejewski for violating his Fourth Amendment rights.

As the court ruled . . .

Defendant conceded at oral argument that his conduct following the initial stop and check of Plaintiff’s driver’s license exceeded the bounds of a Terry stop, but that the conduct was still justified because he had probable cause to believe Plaintiff was possessing a firearm without a permit as he had not yet been able to verify the validity of the permit….

The question thus becomes whether Plaintiff’s disclosure that he had a pistol in the car coupled with presentation of a facially valid, but not yet verified, permit can “arguably” constitute probable cause to believe that he was unlawfully possessing a weapon in his vehicle. An assessment of arguable probable cause requires consideration of the statute Defendant believed Plaintiff might be violating.

Connecticut General Statutes § 29-38(a) makes the absence of a permit while possessing a firearm inside a vehicle an element of the offense, meaning that there needed to have been some evidence indicating the probability that Plaintiff was not licensed to possess a firearm in order to suspect that he had committed the crime of unlawful possession of a firearm in a vehicle. But at no time did Defendant have any reasonable suspicion or actual knowledge of Plaintiff’s possession of the firearm without simultaneously knowing that Plaintiff demonstrated that he had an apparently valid firearm permit.

Indeed, it is undisputed that Plaintiff told Defendant that he had a pistol in the driver’s side door compartment at the time he handed his driver’s license and pistol permit to Defendant. And in his deposition, Plaintiff stated that when he handed his license and permit to Defendant, he said, “That’s my license and including [sic] my pistol permit, I have a pistol on me.” In the absence of any articulable reason for Defendant to believe the permit was counterfeit or otherwise invalid, there is no indication that Plaintiff was even arguably unlawfully possessing a firearm.

In light of the uncontested fact that Plaintiff presented his pistol permit to Defendant before or at the time he disclosed that he was in possession of a pistol and the absence of any other indicia that Plaintiff was otherwise violating the statute, no reasonable officer could believe probable cause was present. Any contrary holding “would eviscerate Fourth Amendment protections for lawfully armed individuals” by presuming a license expressly permitting possession of a firearm was invalid. To accept Defendant’s reasoning would permit police officers to detain any driver because he or she may have a counterfeit or otherwise invalid driver’s license which has been rejected by the Supreme Court.

Because, on the record read in the light most favorable to the non-moving party, no reasonable police officer could have believed he or she had probable cause to arrest Plaintiff, the Court denies summary judgment on the lawfulness of the de facto arrest ….

— Eugene Volokh in Fourth Amendment Forbids Handcuffing Driver Just Because He Has Gun + Gun Permit

 

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65 COMMENTS

    • Standard practice. Cuff’em all. Let the judge sort it out. While waiting for backup, conduct a search for evidence and confiscate anything of value.

    • From reading the published ruling (https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/USCOURTS-ctd-3_19-cv-01147/pdf/USCOURTS-ctd-3_19-cv-01147-0.pdf), it’s not a final ruling. It’s denying in part and granting in part the defendant’s (police office) motion for summary judgement. Basically, the officer (and his lawyer) was asking the judge to rule BEFORE trial that he did nothing wrong. The judge agreed with respect to the initial stop, but not the subsequent de facto arrest. I believe the lawsuit is still moving forward and a final decision is still to come.

      • Exactly. This isn’t a win, it’s simply not a loss. The actual trial has to happen.

        That being said, having read the ruling, I suspect the plaintiff will prevail at trial. All that is required for a summary judgment motion to fail is a disagreement over the facts or interpretation of the law that is better decided at trial. Usually these things say that “Party X moves for summary judgement on the basis that he did not search Party Y, therefore no illegal search occured. Party Y says that he was searched, therefore this matter needs to be resolved at trial”. In this decision, the judge said that given the undisputed facts, the officer clearly violated the plaintiffs rights, and there’s no reason to believe they won’t arrive at the same place in the trial.

        Also, since the qualified immunity defense was just shot down, damages will be coming directly out of the officer’s pocket.

  1. Charge police with larceny. $320 in cash and a flashdrive containing information worth at least $181 makes it grand larceny. Watch police squirm…I support police 99% of the time, this is one where the officer was wrong, and so were his commanding officer(s). Totally bogus.

  2. Connecticut says it all. The anti-Second Amendment forces are strong in the Elitist Utopia of Connecticut. The officer should pay out of HIS pocket all court costs and damages to the Plaintiff. The Department should have to pay a fine to GOA or Second Amendment Foundation or, even, the NRA, as a penalty for their biased-policing actions.

    • Wow that’s worse than ILLinoyed. That cop needs to get booted,sent to jail and put in stocks in the public square. I hope the motorist gets a big check! I don’t support the po-leece 99% of the time-only when they deserve it.. I’ve seen & heard way too much BS the last 50 years…

  3. Dumbazz cop who should not be a cop. Says a lot about who hires such morons.

    On the other hand…This permit thing seems to be looked upon as some glorious piece of paper that allows the holder to possess a means of self defense. Those caught without a glorious permit are prosecuted for nothing more than having a means to defend themselves which having the means to defend oneself is entirely prudent and common sense. Gun Permits amount to a poll tax, it’s clearly discrimination and a violation of a Constitutional Right.

    • What’s especially onerous is the severity of the punishment for neglecting to carry that bureaucratic permission slip. Aside from the unconstitutional nature of the permit in the first place, failure to aquire and carry the proper paperwork and pay the tax shouldn’t be considered a felony or even a serious/aggregated misdemeanor. Running afoul of any other bureaucratically infringed right would result in a simple misdemeanor charge. A citation and release on your own recognizance.

      • He HAD his permission slip. The cop just decided “Nah, I think it’s fake.”.

        Permission slips AND “duty to inform” must go.

        • Doncha know? Crooks always lie unless they are informing to the police. Then their word is taken to be carved on stone tablets and handed down from the heavens.

          And citizens are simply crooks who don’t have a record yet.

  4. When I took my CCW class even though Illinois is a “If asked” state,
    my instructors had a different take on it.
    The school was run by cops and I talked to cops about this but read this before jumping on me.

    Our class was told that if you were carrying and got pulled over, roll the windows down and put your hands on the steering wheel. Wait in the vehicle for the cop or cops to come up to the car.
    IF you were carrying give the cop your DL and CCW. Why would you do this in a “If asked” state?
    While I know some are going to disagree it’s about not making the cop or cops nervous.

    I took the class years ago and their weren’t many permits or people carrying.
    You give the cop your CCW and let him ask questions if he wants to IF you are carrying.
    Your hands are in plain sight so the cop doubts he will be shot. The law states they can secure your gun.
    They can do this until the stop ends. It’s Illinois law. You basically get that BS out of the way.
    The reasoning behind this is the cop is going to take your DL back to his squad.
    He is going to run you through LEADS which is going to show if you have a FOID and/or CCW.

    When he comes back to your vehicle he might be a little rattled or not,
    you may have a gun close that he doesn’t know about and could be nervous.
    He may come back with his hand on his sidearm.
    By getting that out the way first, at that point he knows you are armed and will act accordingly.

    Your hands are in plain sight and he’s in charge of the traffic stop.
    The moral is they are going to find out rather quickly in their squad if you have a CCW.
    CCW means gun to certain cops and makes them nervous.
    The last thing you want is a nervous cop who doesn’t know if or where your handgun is.

    When I talked with other cops about this, they were pretty straightforward.
    “Yes when I come back to your car I’m going to be on alert that you didn’t tell me that you had a gun.”
    “After all I am going to find out in a minute or two that you have a CCW and a FOID.

    I don’t consider this “boot-licking”, I look at it as survival.
    You don’t want a nervous cop next to your car with their hand on their sidearm.
    After what went down with that CPD cop being killed and the one not likely to survive,
    do you want to give a nervous cop a reason to shoot you because you accidentally dropped something?

    I know opinions are going to vary but the same can be said about cops.
    They are going to find out quickly anyway so get it out of the way.
    Say they are training a rookie and he’s behind you on your passenger side.
    Do you want that rookie to shoot you in the head because you dropped a pen?

      • Yep…and Geronimo! the cop got in trouble. The biggest problem with Castile is he was high as he!!

        • The real problem with Castille was that he was reaching for something when told not to. Right or wrong, if you want to live, when a cop tells you not to reach for something don’t reach for anything.

        • Not as I understood the facts, Crimson. The officer instructed Castille to present his ID, Castille informed him not only that he was armed, but that he was about to reach into his back pocket to retrieve his ID, per the officer’s command.

          Officer then shot Castille. Bad outcome all around.

      • As I read the articles on Castille, it was clear to me that his companion instigated the shooting. As Castille was reaching for his pocket, his compnaion blurted out, “He has a gun.” That phrase is generally perceived as a warning, not an informational statement.

        Is it unreasonable to point out that if any one of us approached a stranger and asked, “Do you know the way to San Jose?”, and the stranger reaches into his back pocket while his companion blurts, “He has a gun.” We likely would respond with a drawn weapon, and fearing for our lives, shoot first?

        Or would we politely just stand there, waiting to determine if the stranger actually has a gun, is pointing it at us before we respond with deadly force?. Action beats reaction. Are we going to give that precious 1.6 seconds of advantage?

    • Fuck the cops. I don’t give a rats ass if they are nervous. They are not at all concerned about making me nervous. How about the cop and I exchange weapons for the duration of the stop, for both of our safety? Traffic enforcement is all about revenue generation. It is a tax, pure and simple. Stop traffic enforcement and go after real criminals. You know, the dangerous ones.

      PA has no law requiring you to inform cops. I have never informed and I never will. No cop has asked me about weapons during a stop.

      • This is the real right attitude, but it’s hard to maintain. “Just don’t get pulled over” is easier said than done when you get “approached by a cop” and hassled just for “stopping in a bad area” like the guy in the story. Probably better to get bothered by gang members than the police in that place.

      • Yes they are glorified tax collectors.
        You are thinking of one cop and he can get to cover and you are stuck in your car.
        The cop behind you and to right can just pump bullets into your head.
        Two cops, both nervous. IL is “If asked” and so is PA.
        Two nervous cops with guns is a bad place to be in.
        I have been pulled over ONCE and wasn’t asked about having a handgun since I got my permit. I tend to avoid giving the local government more money as a tax.
        I took the initial class 7 years ago and a took a joke of a renewal class.
        Re-qualifying? Oh, I completely forgot how to shoot in 5 years.

        • so some states are duty to inform; aren’t all the rest “if asked?”
          while i’m sure no state allows lying to police about possession are there any that allow, “nunyabidnis, mistah?”

        • Want to avoid getting pulled over for speeding? Use your cruise control and set it 1mph below the limit according to your GPS. Let the idiots overtake.

      • “() the cops”

        the alternative is to be the cop yourself. with everything that goes with that. which you don’t want.

        “Stop traffic enforcement”

        drive the speed limit. sober.

        • Speed limits are arbitrary and set low for the sole purpose of robbing citizens. Repeal most traffic laws and remove the privilege cops have to be armed while working for the tax payer.

        • I disagree with non armed cops, what are they supposed to use, harsh language? We have one dead Chicago cop and another who if lives will be pretty messed up for life. Why? Because some punks in a traffic stop got the drop on them over a expired sticker.

          “remove the privilege cops have to be armed while working for the tax payer.”
          No, even the police are covered under the Second Amendment, it’s not a privilege but a Right. Given with what they deal with they need that Right just like everyone else, actually more so.

          The parts we agree on are the traffic laws but not to your extent. The registration of vehicles is supposed to go to maintaining roads. In the last 15 years I have watched my registration go from $48 to $51 to $101 to now $151. That’s for each vehicle I own. I used to have a Jeep for winter and Chevy for summer. My insurance was split so one was insured for 6 months (summer) and then the other for the other 6 months. (winter) I could register both of them for $96 which means I would leave the SOS with change for $100 bill.

          Now I have three vehicles and my different insurance company will not split the rates. I have to pay insurance on the three of them all year but when I pay for 3 registration stickers, it’s $453. That’s a bit much considering the shape the street are in. If they were using my money wisely and improved the streets then the speed limit should go up. Since some of the streets are horrible they keep lowering the speed limits.

          On some streets I actually go under the posted speed limit, there are holes that will tear your car up. That being said, I don’t know how much a speeding ticket is and don’t care to find out. The thing is the UPS truck goes 40mph or more down my street. It is posted 25mph.

          What you want is some form of anarchy, there are laws for a reason. Granted not all of them are good laws but they keep most people from having to deal with criminals, that’s why we have police.

      • Well, IMHO Pa cops are some of the best. Ive been to nearly every state quite frequently and I always feel more confident in fair treatment while in Pa.
        This doesn’t include bordering NJ or NY or MD and sharing those guys working both sides, gets a bit fuzzy there but the other 95% of the state is filled with great officers.
        That aside, this crap of officers approaching everyone like they’re high speed operators operating operationally in Falluja is bull.

        Wear the vest, make the stop, take the risk. We need to bring officers back to where they should be, public servants, not armed justice machines dished out by high command to exert dominance over the petty poors.

    • Depends on where you are. In some states, like mine, there is no duty to inform and LEOs are not allowed to ask. It is assumed that every person is armed all the time. Act accordingly.

    • I have a CCW from Nebraska and have been stopped twice for speeding in Missouri and Illinois. (I know it’s bad but I like to drive fast sometimes).

      Both times I kept my hands on the steering wheel while the state trooper got to my door and the presented my license and permit at the same time. The trooper from Missouri was polite and unfazed when I told him I was carrying a pistol.

      Since my CCW isn’t valid in Illinois, I had my pistol in the trunk of my car. I figured the trooper would find out I had a CCW after running my plates. He said he didn’t need to see my CCW because “people that have CCWs aren’t the problem”. I told him my pistol was in the trunk and he said, “why, it doesn’t do you any good there.” He said no one would care if I was just driving through the state.

      I know not all cops and troopers are as professional as this guy was, but it was an interesting conversation.

      • In Illinois you were legal:

        “Visitors: Non-residents with a valid CCL from their home state may transport a loaded concealed handgun in their vehicle, but they may not remove it from the vehicle.”

        If you have a CCL from your home state then you can have it loaded and concealed in your car. The ISP is usually pretty good about knowing the laws and aren’t easily rattled.

        Right now in Chicago we have a dead cop and another that was shot 3 times including through the eye into the brain. His outlook isn’t good and tensions are high.
        This was over a traffic stop – expired plates.

        If you were to stay at say a motel then you have to unload it and put it in a case until you get into your room, then you can uncase and reload it.

        I could put up all of the relevant statutes but I have a crazy storm going on and the power has been flickering.

    • drop all the pens you want. just don’t try to retrieve them. i’ve been pulled over since being licensed and in vehicles pulled over being driven by licensed carriers. they probably knew from the plate reading but nothing was ever mentioned.
      revealing may or may not be a good idea; demeanor sure counts though.

      • Here’s a video of the Philando Castile shooting.
        This is what I mean about a nervous cop.
        My hands would have been up and out the window, you just never know but the second Officer Jeronimo Yanez put his hand on his gun, comply EXACTLY.
        Do EXACTLY what the cops say, Officer Jeronimo Yanez was acquitted.
        This was all over a brake light out and went bad in a hurry.
        https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-nation/wp/2017/06/21/what-the-police-officer-who-shot-philando-castile-said-about-the-shooting/

        • The reason stated to Castile was the tail light (or expired tags, I forget), but the chatter on the police radio between the officer and dispatch was suspicion that Castile looked like a suspect in a recent robbery. I’d say that was probably a form of racial profiling, tbh.

        • It was a brake light, the video is in the link.
          It was going OK until the cop got nervous and Castile made a quick move.
          The cop took that to be he was going for a gun and shot him.
          Everything seemed fine until that point.
          That’s the way the jury saw it anyway, IDK.

    • As a Military Police Officer, I concur. Just tell me you have a CCW. It’s actually going to lower the stress. Why? Because purely statistically speaking, a CCW permitted person is the least likely person to cause an issue at a traffic stop.

    • Nice post. Only small contribution I can make relates to our situation in Texas, which I would expect in this regard is probably universal. Before that officer exits the cruiser, they will have run your license plate. That gives them the registered owner(s), which in 9 out of 20 cases will be you. Your driver’s license and carry license are linked to that record. So they alrwady know the score when they walk up.

      Texas imposes a duty to inform that you’re carrying, but there’s no actual statutory penalty for failing to do so. That said, it’s best to inform, even though you don’t have to, even though they already know, because you come off looking like a decent, respectful citizen by doing so. It puts everyone in a more cooperative frame of mind and may help get you off with just a warning for whatever got you stopped.

    • People with legal permits to carry guns are the least of the Police Officers worries. This stupidity needs to stop the person with a permit to carry a gun is statistically more law abiding then the Police Officer pulling him over. If citizens legally carrying guns spook them they need to find other lines of work.

  5. Exercising a right, particularly one enumerated in the Constitution should never give cause absent evidence of abuse of that right/criminal activity, permit or no.

    To make it painfully obvious, multi million or billion dollar lawsuits need to be filed.

  6. Nice to see a court ruling affirming what know to be correct.

    Sad to see criminal LEO actions in these situations.

    This cop need to be doing something else.

    If this is department policy, then a class action lawsuit is needed.

    Then replace the entire force and establish proper leadership.

    • It might not be criminal cop. It could be the result of unclarified department policy or a training deficit or a misunderstanding of the law cause the way some of these laws read its easy to get the wrong idea. If u look at what the court said its not a straight forward 1+1+1=3 thing. But yeah, the cop should have called a supervisor and had actual probable cause.

  7. In Washington state, In know for fact, that a CCW or CPL depending on where you are is tied to both your drivers license and your registered vehicle, I know for fact when I got pulled over for traffic infringement of crossing a line 20FT early OMG the lieutenant asked where the gun was, I told him, then he told me I could put that back (my CPL), he already knew that I carried because it is tied to the plates and my DL. Without a doubt I would believe Waterbury, Connecticut has the same process to their CCW or CPL holders as well, their gun laws are far stricter than ours so excuse me while I scream BULL STUFF, on that cop! I wish I knew who he was and send him this information which would show CRIMINAL intent on the Waterbury, Connecticut police and one Officer David Andrzejewski!

    • In Illinois the plate can be registered to an individual, corporation or trust.
      They use the LEADS system and it’s a bit different then running a plate.
      Every time you access LEADS, it’s logged to the person using LEADS.
      The traffic system tells if the plate is good and who is the registered owner.
      It also will say stolen vehicle, wanted vehicle or expired registration.
      With DL in hand they access LEADS in their squad car and it’s logged.
      Years ago they did this through a dispatcher.
      Now they run your DL into LEADS and it shows them wants and warrants,
      your driving history, criminal history, FOID and CCL status and the such.
      Years ago I was pulled over in another part of the state.
      The LEO knew I had a FOID card because he saw it in my wallet.
      He saw my FOID when I got my DL out of my wallet and mentioned it.
      When he checked my DL in LEADS he said yep, you have a FOID in good standing.
      They use the same laptop, LEADS is a different screen they log into.
      This was before Illinois had concealed carry. I got off with a warning for 12 mph over.

      • LEADS…. or is it….. SCMODS: State-County-Municipal-Offender-Data-System

        Elwood Blues,
        1060 W Addison St, Sweet Home Chicago, IL 06061, United States

  8. Police by nature are oath breakers. Who do you think will be gladly taking any illegal orders to confiscate your guns without thinking twice? It’s happening already all over. They are too scared to go after the real criminals so they go after easy targets like law abiding citizens. I have to agree with one thing the corrupt Wayne LaPierre from NRA said, and that is many of the LEO’s are jack booted government thugs.

  9. You may not speak freely without a license.
    Take a speach class and get your permit.
    Check your local laws as the permit to speak freely is not valid in all states.

  10. So the gun owner is presumed guilty until proven innocent? Even if SCOTUS agrees this was wrong 9-0, what recourse to law abiding gun owners have? Chicago PD just violated a recent SCOTUS ruling by arresting an Iowa man who was not breaking the law.

  11. YOU CAN TRUST THE COPS . THIS ONE HOWEVER USED POOR JUDGEMENT IN AWAY .
    SHOULD HAVE FELT THIS WAS AN HONEST PERSON TRING TO DO THE RIGHT THING .
    NOW : QUESTION IS ; WHY WASN’T OFFICER ABLE TO FIND OUT LICENSE TO CARRY WAS VALID . WOULD NOT HAVE DID WHAT HE DID .

  12. Cops like this are idiots and need to be sued into oblivion, and the departments that hire them as well.
    In my case, I’ve had no bad experiences while armed. I keep my hands in plain sight, advise the cop I have a revolver concealed in my waistband and a permit for it. They already know about the permit anyway.
    In both cases the cop was completely unconcerned about my gun, neither wrote me a ticket and both turned their backs to me walking back to their cruisers. It was a big nothingburger.

  13. The court decision is being taken by some as blanket protection for gun carriers from “Cuffing, Detaining, and Searching”. It isn’t.

    “US District Court: Cuffing, Detaining, and Searching Lawful Gun Owners Violates the Fourth Amendment”

    is actually more like

    “US District Court: Cuffing, Detaining, and Searching Lawful Gun Owners Violates the Fourth Amendment Absent Probable Cause”

    This is not blanket protection, so people should not assume it is.

    A person can be a legitimate permit holder, or in other ways legally carrying a gun (e.g. constitutional carry state where no permit needed), but still be subject to “Cuffing, Detaining, and Searching” for “other” “criminal” violations if probable cause exists to reasonably believe the person committed OR was involved in the offense, OR the gun OR PERSON (OR IN SOME CASES THEIR VEHICLE) IS REASONABLY BELIEVED TO BE PROXIMATE TO THE OFFENSE OR LOCATION OF THE OFFENSE OR TO THOSE WHO COMMITTED THE OFFENSE.

    For example, its not abnormal (or illegal or violation of constitutional rights) for police arriving at the scene of a self defense shooting to disarm, cuff, search, and detain the person who fired in self-defense until they get a grasp on what happened and who did what, even if the self-defense person has a permit.

    When you shoot someone in self-defense and they die you have actually committed a crime called “homicide”. If the shooting was “allowed” by law its called either “excusable homicide” or “justifiable homicide” depending on the circumstances. Either way, when the police first arrive they treat it as a homicide and have a reasonable belief you pulled the trigger (which you did not in legitimate self defense, that bad guy did not shoot himself most likely) thus probable cause to cuff, search, and detain until they find out who did what and what happened. A lot of police departments don’t go the full route of cuff, search, and detain for a self defense shooting if you claim immediately “I was in fear of my life and had no other choice”, then they go on and investigate (but they are going to disarm you) and if they find anything which indicates other than self defense you are gonna be cuffed, searched, and detained.

    • “which you did not in legitimate self defense”

      should have read “which you did in legitimate self defense”
      sorry ’bout that.

  14. Just picked up my renewal permit yesterday at the Sheriff’s office. It took less than 3 weeks tp process and approve. Employees in the office thanked and congratulated me and the retired LEO’s working security at the door gave me a big smile and thumbs up. Oh, and no mask required.

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