The Appellate Division recently upheld as lawful the stop of a car where a police officer saw a backseat passenger looking at him, ducking down, and apparently lifting his arm up and down in an attempt to stuff something under the backseat; which according to the Court suggested the possibility of a weapon being present.
The police officer stopped the car and ordered the men outside the vehicle. After further inquiry the officer found a revolver on one of the passengers and another inside the car. The Bronx Criminal Court did not find anything wrong with the stop of the car and the Appellate Division unanimously affirmed that decision. The Defendant in that case was then convicted of two counts of criminal possession of a weapon in the second degree, and sentenced to four years in prison.
Even though the Court spent more time discussing what happened when the men were ordered out of the car this case shows that a police officer can claim the most innocuous reasons for pulling a car over if the passenger’s conduct can somehow be extrapolated to a gun being present. The fact that the Appellate Division barely mentioned the stop of the car shows the uphill battle that a criminal defendant faces when trying to challenge the stop of their vehicle.