Police may not use a traffic stop as a pretext to enter a man's "crib," a federal judge ruled last week. US District Judge Irene M. Keeley last week adopted the findings of a federal magistrate overturning the evidence a Morgantown police officer obtained by following a West Virginia man, Samad Harvey, into his home. Harvey had been one of three black men in a silver Jaguar stopped by Officer Kenneth Walker Murphy on University Avenue at around 9:45pm on December 16, 2010.
"My original reason for the stop was because there was no registration," Officer Murphy testified.
The vehicle, in fact, was properly registered. A New Jersey temporary registration card was visible in the rear window, as required by that state's law. Even after he saw the valid registration, Officer Murphy believed it was illegal to drive without a license plate. Under a New Jersey law in effect at the time, the temporary tag "shall be carried in the cab of the vehicle" (New Jersey has since switched to the use of temporary paper plates). Judge Keeley found display in accordance with New Jersey law violated West Virginia law and a city ordinance.