At the conclusion of a hearing on October 23, 2023, Judge Ronald F. Ware granted the Motion to Suppress that we filed on behalf of our client, Antonio Darrell Swann. The result is that the District Attorney’s Office is prohibited from using as evidence the approximately 3 kilograms of fentanyl and 8 kilograms of cocaine that the police unlawfully seized.
On April 12, 2023, Mr. Swann was pulled over on Interstate 10 between Lake Charles and Iowa. The alleged violation was “Improper Lane Usage.” A Lake Charles Police Department officer and a Calcasieu Parish Sheriff’s Office deputy were working as a part of the “Interdiction” team assigned to the Combined Anti-Drug Task Force (CAT). Mr. Swann is from Baltimore, Maryland and is employed as a vehicle hauler. He was driving a rental truck and pulling a trailer (car hauler). It was a very windy day and the officers claimed that they saw the tires of the trailer briefly touch the “dash line.”
“This was a classic example of a profile stop. Our client was pulled over and unnecessarily detained because of the color of his skin and because he was driving a rental vehicle. The deputy manufactured a reason to pull over Mr. Swann and he illegally prolonged the stop in an attempt to confirm his hunch. This is the precise type of police misconduct that the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution protects all of us from. This is also the type of police misconduct that the U.S. Supreme Court prohibits,” said Todd S. Clemons.
Antonio was forced to exit his vehicle and repeatedly answer questions about the purpose of his travel. The deputy advised our client that he would receive a written warning and “be on his way”. However, as the deputy admitted during the hearing, he unnecessarily delayed the process so that he could continue to question our client. They ultimately asked Mr. Swann for consent to search his truck. When he refused to give consent, the officers conducted a K-9 sniff around the exterior of his vehicle. They then searched the truck and found narcotics inside of it.
At the conclusion of the hearing, Judge Ware ruled that the officers did not have a reasonable suspicion that our client committed a traffic offense. Thus, they did not have a lawful cause to pull him over. He granted the Motion to Suppress and ordered that the evidence could not be used against our client. We commend Judge Ware for having the courage to do what is right, regardless if it is popular.