Police body camera footage showing officers conducting an invasive search for marijuana has surfaced in New Jersey. John Paff, an open government advocate, discovered the footage while filing public record requests across the state. Paff quickly published the footage, which went public on Tuesday. Did police sexually assault man during roadside search for marijuana?
Police Body Camera Footage Shows State Troopers Shoving Hands Down Suspect’s Pants
Jack Levine was driving to work down Burlington Country Road when New Jersey state troopers pulled him over. Levine ultimately walked away from the incident with a citation for tailgating.
But that was after more than a half-hour ordeal where troopers searched Levine’s vehicle and the intimate areas of his person multiple times. The officers said Levine reeked of cannabis.
The video, which went public Tuesday, shows the two arresting officers, Andrew Whitmore and Joseph Drew, going to extraordinary lengths to find the marijuana they suspected Levine of possessing.
According to a report by New Jersey 101.5, Levine was traveling with a passenger, a co-worker. The officers at the scene separated Levin and his passenger. At the start of the video, Whitmore presses Levine’s passenger to give up the location of the marijuana.
Audio from the video presents Whitmore assuring the suspect that “it’s not like TV” and cannabis possession won’t land him in jail. But Levin’s passenger insists there’s no marijuana.
The two troopers, Whitmore and Drew, then turn their attention to Levine. “The dude that I removed, the driver, I moved him and put him in the back of my vehicle. My vehicle reeks,” Whitmore says in the video.
The rest of the video, reflecting Whitmore’s perspective, shows the two troopers discussing where they believe Levine has allegedly stashed cannabis.
After a few moments, they decide Levine has hidden cannabis down his pants. As Whitmore is patting down the outside of Levine’s pants, he pulls them forward to peer down the front, saying to Drew that he “definitely gets an odor” when opening Levine’s pants.
“Try Not To Rape Me, Already”: New Jersey Police Search Man’s Genitals And Anus For Weed
Next, a back and forth ensues between Levine and the troopers. The officers keep repeating that Levine smells of marijuana. And Levine keeps insisting he has none.
Finally, Levine asks if he is free to go. At this point, the officers arrest Levine and handcuff him. They say they are arresting Levine “for the odor of marijuana.”
The troopers then threaten Levine with a strip search, saying they will take him to booking and conduct the search there. Levine continues to assert his rights and his innocence.
“Yo, you can bring me down. You do what you got to do. You are not sticking those gloves up me,” Levine says as the officers approach with latex gloves. Levine reminds the officers that their bodycams are capturing their activity.
After debating whether or not to conduct the search at the scene or to book Levine, trooper Joseph Drew begins to search inside Levine’s underwear with his hands.
Levine then begins shouting. “Yo—what—yo–you are really on some wild-ass shit right now. Oh, man, I can’t wait. Whoo-hoo. You better hope this is legal.”
In the video, Drew keeps turning Levine around, unzipping his pants, and searching further. “Man, I think I’m traumatized,” Levine says. Drew then tells Levine to stop moving and begins using his hands to search Levine’s anus and genitals.
“Yo, yo, he’s doing some real crazy shit right now, yo,” Levine says, incredulous that all this is happening because the officers said they smelled weed.
New Jersey Man Files Lawsuit Against State Troopers After Genital And Anal Search Finds No Weed
After the many-minutes long search of Levine’s genitals and anus, the officers turn up nothing. As they walk Levine back to his car, Levine says “I know you just sexually assaulted me, but I’m not going to kill myself.”
The officers ultimately issued Levine a citation for tailgating. The video ends with Whitmore speaking. His voice trails off, “either he had some strong-ass weed just a minute ago, or…”
The incident was enough to prompt Levine to file a motion that would allow him to bring a lawsuit against the officers.
In New Jersey, people have 90 days after an incident to file a “tort notice,” which gives government agencies advance notice that they are about to be sued.
Levine, however, had to file to extend the 90 day deadline for the tort notice after State Police repeatedly delayed requests from Levine’s attorney for the dash and bodycam footage of the search.
Levine’s motion to extend the deadline is what ultimately brought the bodycam videos to the attention of John Paff. It was Paff who filed the records requests for the videos pertinent to Levine’s case.
After viewing the videos and finding the search invasive enough to have potentially violated Levine’s rights, Paff went public.
The Final Hit: Police Sexually Assault Man During Roadside Search For Marijuana
“It was the most humiliating experience I’ve ever been through, also due to the fact that people were driving by very slowly, watching him with his hand down my pants,” Levine wrote in the motion to bring a suit against the two officers.
Paff believes Levine’s motion was denied by the New Jersey Superior Court, but sources have yet to confirm whether this is the case. If true, Levine still has the option of pursuing his case in federal courts. Levine’s lawyer declined to comment. State Police say they are aware of the video and are preparing a statement. But so far, none has been issued.