New Jersey Trooper’s Roadside Body Search For Weed Sparks Sexual Assault Claim

Photo Credit: AP Photo

A New Jersey state trooper has been caught on camera as he groped a motorist’s genitals and buttocks during a search for weed, according to reports.

In the dashcam and bodycam footage, Trooper Joseph Drew claims he smelled marijuana when he pulled the 23-year-old driver over for tailgating on the side of Route 206 in Southhampton Township, NJ.

When a search of the vehicle doesn’t turn up any weed, Drew handcuffs the driver, asks him to step outside and pulls on a pair of blue latex gloves.

“You can tell me where it is right now or I can go in and get it,” Drew can be heard saying before reaching into the driver’s underwear and groping his backside and genitals for four minutes — as cars and trucks pass them on the busy highway.

The driver can be heard protesting, insisting several times he doesn’t have any weed on him and raising doubts that the search was legal.

At one point, he can be heard wailing and shouting, “He’s raping me!”

Earlier, the trooper had checked the man’s pockets and socks and ordered him to turn over drugs, then tells him: “If you think this is the worst I’m going to do, you have another thing coming, my friend.”

No drugs were found in his car or on his body and the driver was slapped with a ticket for tailgating, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

The March 8, 2017, incident came to light last week after the videos were obtained by John Paff, who heads the open-government group New Jersey Libertarians for Transparency.

State Police Internal Affairs said Drew is still on patrol during an investigation, according to the Inquirer.

The driver claims he was sexually assaulted and that his civil rights were violated. He has filed a notice of intent to file a lawsuit.

His lawyer, Arthur Lang, said in court documents obtained by the Inquirer that state police are refusing to turn over a copy of their policy on searches. He also said they failed to hand over the video of the incident until 10 months after it happened — despite multiple requests.

The Attorney General’s Office is trying to get the claim dismissed by arguing it was filed after a 90-day deadline. But Lang said the case should be allowed to go forward since police didn’t hand over information in a timely fashion.

Regardless of whether the case continues, Amol Sinha, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey, said the Attorney General’s Office needs to address the public’s concern over the video.

“Trust in law enforcement suffers when incidents like this happen and we see no accountability,” he said. “We need assurances it won’t happen again, and that the state police amends its policies, training and procedures … so the public can trust that the police are looking out for the people they serve.”