New York, NY — In 2015, TFTP reported on a ruling by the Fifth Circuit US Court of Appeals that said it is suspicious for a vehicle to have air fresheners, rosaries, or pro-police bumper stickers and therefore justifies probable cause for a stop.
The ruling stems from a 2011 Texas court case in which a couple was pulled over for having rosaries hanging from the rearview mirror, as well as a few air fresheners, and a DARE sticker on the back of the vehicle.
Nohemi Pena-Gonzalez was pulled over by Police Officer Mike Tamez when she was driving just 2 MPH over the speed limit. The officer did not pull her over because she was speeding, but because he suspected that she was trafficking drugs, and found the contents of her vehicle and the sticker to be suspicious.
Eventually, the officer questioned her husband, Ruben Pena-Gonzalez, who agreed to allow the officer search to their vehicle. The officer did not find any drugs, but did find a large sum of cash that he confiscated, and then sent Ruben Pena-Gonzalez to jail.
In 2015, the case was taken to the Court of Appeals, where it was decided that Officer Tamez had reasonable suspicion to detain the family and ask to search their vehicle.
“We do have concerns that classifying pro-law enforcement and anti-drug stickers or certain religious imagery as indicators of criminal activity risks putting drivers in a classic ‘heads I win, tails you lose’ position. But we need not decide whether these items alone, or in combination with one another, amount to reasonable suspicion because we find the more suspicious evidence to be the array of air fresheners and inconsistencies in the driver’s responses to the officer’s basic questions. We have long recognized that the presence of air fresheners, let alone four of them placed throughout an SUV, suggests a desire to mask the odor of contraband.”
This ruling upholds the idea that police officers can profile and detain people who aren’t actually committing any crimes.
As the following case illustrates, this tactic of profiling and harassing is still being carried out today and used to terrorize innocent people.
On Father’s Day, instead of spending time with his son, Sam Detroit was kidnapped and locked in a cage. He had done nothing wrong, had harmed no one and was simply dropping his friend off at work, when he was surrounded by a dozen cops who then arrested him — over an air freshener.
In an exclusive interview, Detroit told the Free Thought Project that he was parked in his car, waiting for his friend to pick up his paycheck from work when he noticed police officers from the 120th precinct start to surround him.
“They walked up to my car and ask for me to identify myself and I asked ‘why?'” Detroit said.
Detroit, who tells TFTP that he actually passed the test to become a cop in New York but decided against it, asked once more, why they wanted his ID.
When he asked for a third time why they wanted to ID him, the cops looked inside his vehicle and claimed that his air freshener gave them probable cause.
At this point, there are more than a dozen cops surrounding this innocent man and the only reason they can tell him they are there is because he has an air freshener.
As Detroit’s friends question this ridiculous harassment and detainment over an air freshener, police then move in and arrest Detroit.
He would spend Father’s Day — away from his son locked in a cage — for an air freshener.
Detroit says he was charged with interfering with a police investigation and refusing to identify.
He tells us that police also drove off in his vehicle and illegally searched it.
TFTP contacted the 120th precinct of the NYPD but they did not give us any information on the arrest.
Detroit said that when he saw the judge the next day and told him what happened, “the judge laughed and said ‘let this man go.'”
After he got out, Detroit found out that police had profiled him, claiming he fit the description of a suspect. However, because he was not the suspect, they arrested him over an air freshener.
Detroit says he has a court date on July 15th and plans on fighting the charges. If there is any semblance of justice left in the system, he should have no problem beating them.
Time after time, we hear from the apologist crowd that “if you don’t break the law, you have nothing to worry about.” And, time after time, instances like this prove the utter ridiculousness of that claim.