On July 13th near Irving, TX, 38 year old Angel Dobbs and her 24 year old niece, Ashley Dobbs, were stopped by David Farrell, a state trooper, for littering. They had each tossed their cigarettes out of the car on State Highway 161, which prompted the initial stop. Both women are now suing the two state troopers and the head of their department in federal court because they feel they have been subjected to a humiliating and illegal “roadside body cavity search” during this traffic stop. The incident captured on the officer’s dash cam can be seen here.
Farrell stated that he suspected an odor of marijuana and called for Kelley Helleson, a female officer, to help search the two women. In full view of passing traffic the female officer put on a pair of gloves search one woman’s body. After the first woman is searched both anally and vaginally in plain view of passing traffic the first officer’s dash cam captures the female officer using the same pair of gloves to search the second female in the same fashion.
Such an invasive search should never occur on the roadside and should not be conducted in the presence of the public.
According to the law, the odor of marijuana gives law enforcement officers the authority to search a vehicle for marijuana. Unfortunately, this allows dishonest officers to claim they smelled marijuana to justify an otherwise illegal search. To extend this exception to allow an invasive body cavity search based on nothing more than an alleged odor of marijuana inside the vehicle is ridiculous and excessive. What if one or both of these ladies had just gotten into the vehicle and the odor was already there? Assuming, of course, it was ever there in the first place.