AK: Search of def’s rifle case was unreasonable; he was doing nothing wrong

When defendant was stopped, the officer asked whether he had a firearm, which should have been obvious because there was a rifle case visible in the car. Defendant looked at the gun and reached to the case. The court finds this was not an adverse move to the officer, and the officer’s safety was not in jeopardy. Defendant kept his hands on the steering wheel when directed, and he did nothing wrong. Searching the gun case was unreasonable. Cardenas v. State, 2018 Alas. App. LEXIS 254 (Nov. 9, 2018):

Here, there was nothing obviously unlawful about Cardenas’s possession of a rifle. Unlike other situations where such searches have been upheld, there was no indication that Cardenas was prohibited from carrying a firearm. Nor was there any reason to suspect that the firearm had been stolen or that Cardenas’s possession of the firearm was otherwise unlawful. Thus, contrary to the State’s assertion, the single-purpose container doctrine does not justify the search that occurred here.

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