COLLINSVILLE, Ill. (KSDK) - It started with a traffic stop, then turned into a search for drugs. The entire incident was caught on tape and the video went viral. Now, the police officer in the video is heading to court for his decisions that day. While he said he had probable cause to search the car, the driver -- and now a federal judge -- disagree.
The traffic stop happened on a December morning in 2011. Terrance Huff and his friend, Jon Seaton, were heading home to Ohio when a Collinsville Police Officer pulled them over for allegedly swerving into another lane on Interstate 70. The officer gave Huff a written warning, saying it would not cost him anything. Huff denies swerving, but didn't argue with the officer. What happened next, though, is why Huff and Seaton are suing Officer Michael Reichert. First, Reichert says Seaton seemed nervous, then he asks Huff about an arrest that happened in 2001. Huff and Seaton are then patted down and Huff is repeatedly asked if there are drugs in the car.
"There are no drugs in the car and I would just like to go on my way if I could," Huff is heard saying in the video.
But Reichert continues to ask for consent to search the car. Huff says no, so the officer walks his dog around the car, saying if the dog barks, he has the right to search. The dog does bark, so Reichert searches the car for around 15 minutes. The officer alleges there were loose marijuana seeds and leaves on the floor, but he didn't document them and Huff denies they were there. About 50 minutes after the initial stop, Huff and Seaton are free to go.
Months later, Huff, who is a documentary filmmaker, obtained the video of the stop and posted it online. Some people who watched it suggested Huff and Seaton file a lawsuit, so they did. The case made its way to a federal appeals court. And now, a judge has ruled Reichert will stand trial for unreasonable seizure, false arrest, and unreasonable search.
"We just want to bring this thing out into the sunlight and disinfect it and hopefully do some good for the community," said Huff.
The Collinsville Police Department is not commenting on the case as it makes its way through court.