MI: Extending stop for photographs and fingerprints unreasonable

The Grand Rapids PD’s policy of photographing and fingerprinting people without probable cause or reasonable suspicion in a Terry stop violated the Fourth Amendment. It was a trespass on the body. Johnson v. Vanderkooi, 2022 Mich. LEXIS 1359 (July 22, 2022):

The fingerprinting in these cases was not reasonably related in scope to the circumstances that justified either stop. Absent some sort of indication that the GRPD has access to a database that includes the fingerprints of all residents of and visitors to the City, fingerprinting individuals who fail to carry government-issued identification does not seem to be a useful or productive exercise in confirming any individual’s identity because there is no guarantee that a match exists that would provide more information. Instead, fingerprinting under the P&P policy appears to be aimed at solving past or future crimes. There is no indication in the record that the GRPD officers believed that fingerprinting would tie either plaintiff to the circumstances that justified each Terry stop. Notably, VanderKooi was informed over the radio that other officers were unable to retrieve the model train engine, and the record only suggests the existence of latent prints for prior break-ins in the parking lot. To the extent that defendants argue that fingerprinting could help the officers determine whether either plaintiff could be linked to other crimes, such as the prior break-ins, those crimes were necessarily unconnected to the reasons justifying the actual stops. It goes unsaid that Terry caselaw does not justify stops merely for the general purpose of crime-solving, especially for those crimes that have yet to occur.

The fingerprinting of each plaintiff also exceeded the permissible duration of a Terry stop. Recall that, before releasing Harrison, VanderKooi called an officer in for backup in order to execute the P&P policy; again, the purported reason for doing so was simply to clarify Harrison’s identity. Harrison had already answered questions regarding his identity, and calling another officer for backup after having already determined that no criminal activity was taking place was beyond the permissible duration of the Terry stop. Even if fingerprinting, like a dog sniff, did not constitute a search under the Fourth Amendment, fingerprinting Harrison after concluding that no crime had occurred impermissibly extended the duration of the Terry stop. See Rodriguez, 575 US at 357. Similarly, as soon as the officers concluded that no crime had taken place in the parking lot where Johnson was detained, the reasons justifying the initial stop were dispelled, and execution of the P&P policy was an impermissible extension of the duration of the Terry stop.

Because the P&P policy impermissibly exceeds both the scope and duration of a Terry stop, neither of the searches conducted here falls within the stop-and-frisk exception to the warrant requirement. Accordingly, fingerprinting Johnson violated the Fourth Amendment prohibition against unreasonable searches, as defendants do not argue that any other exception applied to Johnson.

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