When police have encounters with suspects there are legal justifications that are required during those encounters as well as determining the potential for criminal evidence. In this particular case study, officer Smith has noticed a vehicle that has what seems to be a broken tail light, therefore pulls over the vehicle. The fact that the car has a possible broken tail light is enough to pull the vehicle over, a simple whats called in most states a correctable violation, typically resulting in a ticket or a certain amount of days to get it fixed. Therefore I believe that officer Smith had a legitimate reason to pull the vehicle over, however I do not believe he had reasonable suspicion until he started to approach the car.
As Smith walked up to the vehicle he realized that the car fit the description of a recent road side killing of a fellow officer. This giving the officer reasonable suspicion that the person in the car may be armed and dangerous considering the broken tail light as well as the same vehicle description. Based on these hunches, as well as Pennsylvania vs. Mimms, “In Mimms, the U.S. Supreme Court noted that statistics indicated that 30 percent of the officers shot in the line of duty were shot as they approached a vehicle. The Court held that when officers make a traffic stop, they may routinely order the driver out of the car without giving any reason.” (Roberson, Wallace & Stuckey pg 83) Also, in my opinion this officer was now in the process of performing a terry-type-stop which is “A detention that will ordinarily be for a fairly short duration and that will be no longer than necessary to effectuate the purpose of the detention.” (Roberson, Wallace & Stuckey pg 405). For those reasons, I feel strongly that officer Smith's choice on performing a pat down was legal.
After Smith was finished with his frisk, and found nothing, he let the suspect return to their car and asked for their license and...
References: Roberson, C., Wallace, H., & Stuckey, G. B. Procedures in the justice system. (10th ed.). Pearson.
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