An Ankeny, Iowa, police officer thought he was going to turn a routine traffic stop into a marijuana heist with some verbal trickery on a disc golfer. He was wrong.
The driver, who posted the video to YouTube, was stopped for driving without his headlights on. After handing the motorist a written warning and no citation, the officer seems to notice the driver has a disc golf backpack in his car. The cop thinks he now has a way into tricking the motorist to search his car for marijuana.
He starts by asking, “You play frisbee golf?”
The motorist replies enthusiastically, “I do actually. I play out at Heritage (Park).” Then the conversation turns.
The officer responds, “OK. I need you to answer me a question. Why is it that everybody that plays Frisbee golf smokes weed?”
The driver insists that’s not the case: “Nope. It’s not everybody. It’s just a select few.”
The cop interrupts: “You can’t tell me you’ve never smoked weed before.”
Intelligently, the driver neither confirms, nor denies he has, saying, “I mean, I’m not going to tell you one way or another.”
Now the cop thinks for sure he’s got the guy and asks, “How much weed do you have in the car today?”
The driver patently denies he does: “I don’t.”
In a few seconds of quick Q and A, the driver denies the officer would find any marijuana in the car or on the driver. Then the cop tries to pull a stupid stunt.
“You understand you’re free to leave,” the cop leads, “but you wouldn’t mind me searching your car?”
The driver doesn’t oblige. “I would, just because I have a disc golfer bag doesn’t mean every disc golfer does have weed. So I would, actually.”
Verbal tricks begin. The cop: “So you have weed in the car. That’s what you’re saying?”
Driver: “No. What I’m saying is I would mind if you searched my car because you’re profiling me based on me being a disc golfer.”
The cop lies again, desperate to trick the driver into giving him probable cause to search the car since, you know, being a disc golfer isn’t. “No, I just asked you a question, but you admitted that you’ve smoked weed in the past during our conversation…”
Now annoyed, the driver interrupts the officer, saying, “No, what I said is I’m not going to say one way or another whether I have smoked pot.”
The cop’s dumb. “Then that’s a yes.” The driver corrects him again.
The cop tries one last time: “So you don’t have anything in the car that I need to know about?” The driver: “No.”
Seemingly resigned to his failure, the cop goes for the friendly approach, trying to discuss why he found it curious the driver denied every disc golfer smokes weed and that he wouldn’t say if he had or had not smoked weed himself. Then the driver lays it out for the officer.
“Because I don’t trust police officers, so I don’t feel that I have to give you an answer,” he says.
The cop lost. Like a good sport, the driver tries to shake the officer’s hand as he departs.
Turns out, the approach is illegal under Iowa law. An officer cannot turn an “equipment” stop into a general search. So even if the golfer had admitted to smoking marijuana in the past, any evidence seized likely would have been thrown out of court. The Ankeny police apologized for the incident.