Dave Staddon: Stopped by police for coming from reservation

"Last December, while on my way from work for an eye appointment, I noticed a U.S. Border Patrol van following me closely. Clearly I was being observed. When I turned off he turned on his lights and pulled me over.

The officer approached my car and I rolled down the window. He asked, “Where are you going?” I replied, “To an eye appointment.” He asked, “Where do you work?” I told him about my role with the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe. He said that he worked closely with the tribal police and I told him that I knew the tribal police chief, one of the detectives and that a friend of mine had recently retired from Border Patrol, but name-dropping didn’t help.

He asked for my identification. He then asked, “Have you ever been stopped before?” I told him, “No.” He then asked, “You mean you’ve never been stopped?” I said, “No. I’ve never been stopped.” He asked, “Do you have anything against you?” I wasn’t sure what he meant. He had a heavy accent and was difficult to understand. He asked again, “Do you have anything against you?” I guessed that he meant any pending criminal charges or warrants. I told him I did not.

He then asked for permission to search my car. I asked, “What for?” No answer. I asked him, “What is your probable cause to search?” Still no answer. I said, “I don’t think a search is reasonable.” He said, “You have a right to say, ‘No.’” I replied, “OK. I’m saying ‘No.’ You have no reason to search my car.” He said, “But you were coming from Akwesasne.” I replied, “I do that every day. That’s where I work.” He said, “You say ‘No.’ That makes me suspicious.” I said, “Fine. Be suspicious all you want.”"

Get the Story:
Dave Staddon: Coming From Akwesasne? Get Out of the Car (Indian Country Today 5/21)

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