IN: Officer didn’t follow inventory policy and made this a criminal search; suppressed

The inventory in this case “deviated greatly” from the impoundment policy. When a gun was found, it turned into a criminal investigation and the officer ignored the inventory. No inventory was made. Sansbury v. State, 2017 Ind. App. LEXIS 804 (Dec. 11, 2017):

P25 Officer Johanningsmeier attempted to explain these deviations from the official policy by stating that after Detective McKalips found the guns, his efforts “turned into a search of the vehicle for evidence. It wasn’t an inventory search any more.” Tr. Vol. II, p. 101. An officer’s focus on contraband to the exclusion of personal items is an additional indication of pretext. See Fair, 627 N.E.2d at 436 (inventory search deemed unreasonable where officer focused on marijuana and a sawed-off shotgun). Officer Johanningmeier’s testimony, combined with the officers’ misinterpretation of the policy and their failure to generate a written inventory of all items found in the car, leads us to conclude that the inventory search was in essence a general investigatory search for contraband, and therefore unreasonable under the Fourth Amendment. See Sams, 71 N.E.3d at 382-83 (officers’ failure to comply with official policy governing inventory searches rendered search unreasonable).

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