Search and Seizure

Court: 2008 Detroit Raid, Seizure of Cars Was Unconstitutional

Owners had to pay ransom to the police to retrieve their vehicles

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DETROIT—A federal judge yesterday ruled unconstitutional the 2008 Detroit police raid of the Contemporary Art Institute of Detroit in which 130 innocent CAID patrons were detained and their cars impounded. Police had no evidence that the patrons had broken the law and no illegal drugs or weapons were uncovered during the raid. The American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan filed the lawsuit in 2010 on behalf of nine patrons and four of their parents whose cars were confiscated during the raid.

"In a free country, the police may not conduct commando-style raids on innocent people and seize their property without justification," said Dan Korobkin, ACLU of Michigan staff attorney. "We hope this case will put a stop to the Motor City shakedowns we've seen across the city—the practice of arresting innocent people, seizing their cars, and refusing to return them unless they pay a $900 ransom."