Police practice of ‘stop and frisk’ upheld by Utah appeals court

File photo | Pixabay, St. George News

SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Court of Appeals has upheld the controversial police practice of “stop and frisk.”

According to a report from Fox13Now, the court acknowledged a “close case” in a ruling published Friday but ultimately sided with police in a challenge to the practice, which has largely come under scrutiny in other states for targeting minorities.

This case involves a challenge by Bryant Robert Mitchell, a member of a white supremacist gang, who was searched in a traffic stop in Ogden last year and who argued in his appeal that he gave no sign that he was going to be violent.

Mitchell was in a vehicle that was stopped after police saw him stand up in the passenger seat of the car and yell at another person in a convenience store parking lot.

“Officers later testified that Mitchell looked ‘very upset’ and ‘aggressive,’ and that he began to open the door of the Blazer before it had come to a stop,” Utah Court of Appeals Judge Ryan Harris wrote. “One of them testified that Mitchell’s screaming sounded indicative of an intent to ‘get into a confrontation or a fight with the person that he was talking to.’”

Police obtained consent to search the vehicle from the driver, and another passenger had a warrant, the ruling said.

“Immediately after Mitchell exited the vehicle, one of the officers frisked him. During the pat-down, the officer discovered a switchblade-style knife in the pocket of Mitchell’s shorts,” Harris wrote. “Because he was a convicted felon, Mitchell was not allowed to possess such a weapon, so the officers then arrested Mitchell for unlawfully possessing the knife. After arresting Mitchell, the officers conducted a more thorough search of his person and discovered ‘a ball of a black tar like substance’ that was later confirmed to be heroin.”

Mitchell was ultimately charged with drug and weapons possession, and the weapons charge was dropped in a plea deal. He challenged the search as a violation of his Fourth Amendment right against search and seizure.

Read the full story here:  Fox13Now.com

Written by BEN WINSLOW, Fox13Now.com

Copyright 2019, KSTU. A Tribune broadcasting station

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