Phillip Plummer, 35, and Andre Plummer, 42, were arrested for possession with intent to deliver cocaine and marijuana but a Lancaster County judge has thrown out the very evidence to be used at trial.
The Judge ruled that the Lincoln police officer who stopped their SUV last year on Interstate 80 lacked probable cause to stop it. The case began on September 16, 2016, when Lincoln Officer John Hudec, a member of the Criminal Interdiction Task Force, stopped a 2016 Hyundai Santa Fe with Minnesota plates.
The officer gave Phillip Plummer a warning ticket for following too closely then asked to search the vehicle. Plummer declined but officers searched the vehicle anyway after drug dogs alerted to the presence of drugs in the vehicle. Officer Hudec also testified that he smelled marijuana coming from the vehicle.
Court records show the police search yielded 3 pounds of marijuana, 2 ounces of cocaine and $15,605 in cash. The defendant's attorney, Justin Kalemkiarian, filed a motion to suppress the drugs and cash from trial arguing that the officer had no reason to stop the vehicle, to begin with.
Lancaster County District Judge Lori Maret agreed with the Kalemkiarian's motion and ruled the drugs could not be used as evidence at trial. The officer testified that he spotted the Plummer's vehicle traveling eastbound where the speed limit is 75 to 65 mph and that the driver was well within the posted speed limit.
The officer then drove at speeds over 90 mph to catch up with the Santa Fe and pulled it over for following too closely to the car in front of it. The Plummer's attorney says that the officer's dashcam video shows that he had begun to create a gap and "and if given more than 14 seconds would have probably done so had the officer not pulled him over."
Judge Maret wrote in her ruling, "The driver was not following but was rather moved over on, and for that reason, the officer did not have probable cause to stop the vehicle." Without the evidence, the cases will most likely be dismissed.
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While I am a Big LEO supporter and strongly believe Addict drug dealers should get a trial and if convicted lined up and shot after one federal level appeal. The Judge was right, because the rules for probable cause and warrant-less searches are strict and it protects us all.