Passenger and traffic stop search: OWENS V. COM. (SC 1/24/2008)

OWENS V. COM.
CRIMINAL:  SEARCH AND SEIZURE (TRAFFIC STOP AND INVESTIGATORY SEARCH ON PASSENGER)
2006-SC-000037-MR.pdf
PUBLISHED: AFFIRMING
OPINION BY: MINTON (NOBLE, SCHRODER CONCUR)
DATE RENDERED: 01/24/2008

TC properly denied the automobile passenger’s motion to suppress evidence of contraband seized from him during traffic stop. This appeal required SC to decide whether a police officer working a traffic stop may exercise discretion to conduct a pat-down search for weapons of a vehicle’s passenger who exited the vehicle to accommodate a search of the vehicle incident to the driver’s arrest, even if the officer has no independent suspicion that the passenger is guilty of criminal conduct. Analyzing the automatic companion rule as a matter of first impression in Kentucky, SC concluded that officer safety and public safety demand that the police officer have discretion to frisk the passenger under these circumstances.

SCOTT C. BYRD

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