VA: Search of speeder’s purse violated Gant and denied sovereign immunity

Plaintiff was arrested and in handcuffs in a police car for speeding. The officer searched her purse in the car, and all this was post-Gant and no evidence of speeding would be found in the purse. This was beyond mere negligence for state sovereign immunity. Cromartie v. Billings, 2020 Va. LEXIS 2 (Jan. 16, 2020).

“The motion to suppress Garcia-Zarate’s statements on the ground that his arrest violated the Fourth Amendment is denied. The police arrested Garcia-Zarate because three people who looked toward the scene after hearing the gunshot identified him as a possible shooter. The witnesses saw everyone running toward the victim, except for one man who was walking swiftly away. They found this behavior suspicious and reported the man to the police as a possible suspect. Two of the witnesses shared photographs they had taken. Within the hour, the police found a man who was in the right area, who was wearing the same clothing as the man the witnesses had identified, and who otherwise matched their descriptions. The police, without a warrant but acting on ‘the kind of fair probability on which reasonable and prudent people … act,” arrested Garcia-Zarate. Florida v. Harris, …. There was no Fourth Amendment violation.” United States v. Garcia-Zarate, 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 224806 (N.D. Cal. Dec. 23, 2019).* (This is the entire opinion.)

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