Warren Weir clashes with cops on highway - Lawyer insists random searches are unlawful

July 30, 2018

Veteran attorney Bert Samuels, while pointing to a 2013 Supreme Court ruling, said that it is unconstitutional for the police to randomly stop motorists and search their motor vehicles.

This comes on the heels of video footage being circulated of an encounter with Olympian Warren Weir and traffic police in Trelawny during which Weir ridicules the officers, while expressing he was unfairly targeted because he owns a nice SUV.

Weir also urged viewers following his live recording to know their rights.

Yesterday, Samuels, while not directly speaking on the incident, told our news team: "There was a judgement of the Supreme Court that only on reasonable suspicion that there was a crime committed by the individual (should a search be done). It can't be random, it must be on suspicion."

The police reportedly signalled the athlete to stop and during the spot check, Weir's BMW SUV was searched and documents checked.

However, the athlete did not take kindly to the approach of the police and questioned the motive behind their actions.

Both Weir and the police recorded the encounter which ended with Weir receiving a ticket for excessive tint.

The policeman in the video also questioned the athlete's unwillingness to cooperate fully and chided him for his utterances.


Disrespectful encounter


In June 2013, Justice David Batts ruled that the police have no power, under the Road Traffic Act, to arbitrarily stop and search motor vehicles.

Batts made the ruling when he ordered the Government to pay J$2.8 million in damages to a motorist who was assaulted by the police when he was stopped in St Catherine in May 2007.

Batts emphasised in the judgment that lawful reasons must be given by the police for stopping and searching a motor vehicle.

The Police High Command has, however, commended the police team for "exemplifying the fundamentals of excellent customer service" during what it described as a disrespectful encounter.

"The High Command is pleased with the level of professionalism shown by the officers, in a situation that disrespectfully challenged their authority and showed disregard for the rule of law," the High Command said in a statement.

The police team, led by a corporal, was executing a vehicular checkpoint operation in the parish.

The Police High Command also commended the team for exercising restraint.

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