Drivers have filed a lawsuit against the Kansas Highway Patrol, accusing them of targeting out-of-state vehicles for traffic stops.
According to the lawsuit, 93 percent of the Kansas Highway Patrol’s traffic stops in 2017 involved vehicles with out-of-state licenses. The plaintiffs claim that they’re infringing on the constitutional protection from illegal searches and seizures.
The federal lawsuit was filed by Joshua Bosire, a black man who lives in Wichita, where he works as an engineer in aviation. He drives down I-70 twice a month to visit his 4-year-old daughter, who lives in Littleton, CO. When he was coming back from visiting her last February, he was driving a rental car that had a Missouri license plate when he was stopped for driving 6mph over the speed limit. He was detained for 36 minutes before a drug dog arrived. No drugs were found.
The other plaintiffs in the lawsuit are Elontah Blaine Shaw and Samuel Shaw, Native American brothers who live in Oklahoma City. Elontah works as an Uber driver and travels through I-70 several times a years to visit family and friends in Colorado. The two brothers were searched for drugs during a traffic stop for speeding in December 2017. Police officers didn’t find any drugs.
Lauren Bonds, a legal director for the ACLU of Kansas said the drivers endured canine unit searches and that one of the drivers endured a personal pat down on the side of a highway.
“The standard for this kind of invasion of privacy has to be higher than out-of-state plates, a Colorado destination and minority status,” Bonds said. “This practice is unconstitutional on many levels.”
Bonds described the so-called, “Kansas Two Step,” as when a trooper stops a vehicle with out-of-state plates under the pretense of a traffic violation, gives a ticket, turns around and takes a couple steps away. Then, they turn back and ask the driver to agree to answer additional questions.
“If the driver says, ‘No,’ then they ask, ‘Oh, can I search your car?’” Bonds explained. “If the driver doesn’t get consent to search, that’s when they’re detained for a drug dog.”
Not everyone agrees with the lawsuit, including motorists Karl and Mamia Brown, who have Colorado license plates.
“I don’t think they’re targeting people from Colorado,” they said. “I don’t think they’re just targeting black people. I just think the police is trying to stop the drugs that’s trying to come in and out of Colorado. That’s what they’re doing.”