D.Nev.: Inventory invalid for not sufficiently complying with policy; bodycam video relied upon

The inventory is invalid for not coming close to complying with the LVMPD inventory policy. The lack of a written itemization and the body camera video shows it was not a valid inventory. Also, the passenger was a good friend of the owner of a pickup, and when the driver got out, he slid over and continued driving. Considering his relationship with the owner, he’s given standing. United States v. Gibson, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 126956 (D. Nev. Aug. 9, 2017):

As the magistrate judge accurately described, the so-called inventory search of Frazier’s truck departed significantly from Metro’s department policy. The policy required officers to “conduct an inventory search of th[e] vehicle and containers found therein and report all personal property on the LVMPD 503 Vehicle Impound Report.” And it reminded them that the inventory search “must be done pursuant to standardized criteria which limits the discretion of the officer and ensures that impound/inventory are legally performed and not a guise for a general exploratory search.” But it does not appear from the record in this case that officers Randall and Dannenberger were reporting personal property on the LVMPD 503 Vehicle Impound Report as required by department policy. Officer Dannenberger testified that he does not write down anything when he takes inventories, unless it’s of “major value.” But even though he found jewelry in this truck, he didn’t write it down. Officer Randall similarly testified that he “typically” does not write down the items he sees during an inventory search; he just “keep[s] a memory of it.” Nobody ever “made it to” the part of the form with “the actual inventory of the property and the details of the vehicle and what’s inside.” So the form was probably “passed off to detectives or it was shredded and recycled.”

A documented list or catalog of items is the hallmark of an inventory search, and so it must be to cabin discretion and justify dispensing with the warrant requirement. The officers’ testimony at the evidentiary hearing and the body camera images from their search show that this critical feature was missing from this search, suggesting that it was really just a general exploratory search conducted without the required warrant or another exception. All evidence obtained as a result of the inventory search must be suppressed.

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