New Jersey Trooper Conducts Weed Search in Motorist’s Crotch. Now The Driver Wants to Sue

A man pulled over for trailing a vehicle too closely in March 2017 is attempting to sue the New Jersey State Police and three troopers after he says he was “violated so many times” during a search of his genital area along the side of the road.

The up-close-and-personal body search came as two troopers were attempting to locate marijuana on a driver who they claimed smelled like pot, according to court papers and body camera video footage obtained.

The driver, who said he was passing through Southampton Township in Burlington County on his way to work, was stopped by Trooper Joseph Drew for trailing the vehicle in front of him too closely.

The March 8, 2017, incident was described in detail in a notice of claim under the Tort Claims Act filed on Jan. 22. The claim, however, was filed after the 90-day statute of limitations, likely making it too late for the motorist to sue a government body.

The search was also captured on a trooper’s body-worn camera, which was recently obtained and posted online Monday by John Paff, a government records watchdog.

The motorist is named in the court papers but NJ Advance Media is withholding his identification because he wasn’t charged with a crime and his citation was dropped.

His face in the video was blurred by Paff because Paff said he didn’t want to embarrass the motorist.

When NJ Advance Media reached the motorist’s attorney, he said that he wasn’t prepared to discuss the case and declined to comment.

The bizarre traffic stop started, the court documents say, after the trooper asked the driver, “Do you have a medical marijuana card?”

“No why?” the motorist responded, according to the notice.

The driver says he was then pulled out of his vehicle, handcuffed, and placed in the back of a police cruiser. A passenger in the car was also cuffed and placed in the police vehicle.

“Trooper Drew was asking me to give him the marijuana or what ever he thought I had to make everything easier,” the notice states. “I told Trooper Drew several times that I had no drugs and I did not know what he was talking about.”

Drew searched the car but didn’t find anything, the notice claims.

He then searched the driver’s waistband.

“Try not to rape me, alright,” the driver can be heard saying in the video.

Drew responds, “We don’t do that.”

Still, nothing was found.

That’s when the latex gloves came out.

Drew took the driver to the front of his police cruiser after the driver requested the search be done in the view of the dashboard camera. The trooper then searched his genital area, the video shows.

The driver can be heard shouting as the trooper searches him.

“You better hope this is legal,” he screams. “Did you find it? Did you find it? Yo, you guys are really ridiculous.”

A second trooper, Andrew Whitmore, was also present at the scene. The footage obtained by Paff through a public records request is from Whitmore’s body-worn camera. Whitmore is also named in the tort notice.

The trooper eventually takes the handcuffs off the driver and walks him back to his vehicle. The same is done with the passenger.

Whitmore can be seen searching the back of the police cruiser to make sure nothing was dropped in the car.

He can be heard saying to Drew, “Either he had some strong a** weed just a minute ago before you stopped him or …”

Whitmore’s hand can be seen raising in the corner of the video as if he was shrugging his shoulders.

Drew wrote the driver a ticket for tailgating but it was dismissed in municipal court, according to an attorney who represented the driver, John Sanders.

The driver writes in his tort claim that Drew, the trooper, requested the ticket be dismissed.

The driver says he met with members of the State Police’s Internal Affairs Unit on Jan. 21, but that meeting was not confirmed by the State Police.