CA7: Groin search for drugs on side of highway was reasonable

Defendant’s side-of-the-road groin search and the reach into his underwear for a ball of drugs was reasonable on the totality. Brown v. Kazmierski, 2021 U.S. App. LEXIS 19962 (7th Cir. July 6, 2021):

Further, Brown argues that the search of his groin area was unreasonable because it occurred on the side of the highway. The reasonableness of a search depends on “the scope of the particular intrusion, the manner in which it is conducted, the justification for initiating it, and the place in which it is conducted.” Bell v. Wolfish, 441 U.S. 520, 559 (1979). We have ruled that an officer conducts a reasonable, protective search on a public street when the arrest occurs there, the officer frisks the defendant’s outer clothes, detects a hard object in the groin area, and reaches into the suspect’s underwear to retrieve it. See United States v. Thomas, 512 F.3d 383, 388-89 (7th Cir. 2008). Under this standard, the manner of the search was reasonable. Although it occurred on a highway, that is where a possibly armed Brown faced the officers, so Kazmierski reasonably searched him there. See id. Further, Brown does not contend that, when the police retrieved the detected hard object, they exposed his genitals to any passerby or otherwise harassed or humiliated him. Thus, the search was reasonable. See, e.g., UnitedStates v. Williams, 209 F.3d 940, 943-44 (7th Cir. 2000).

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