The American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana and the Civil Rights Clinic at the University of Denver College of Law filed an appeal in the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit on behalf of Mr. Cedric Otkins, Jr. Mr. Otkins is a Black man who was unconstitutionally detained and subjected to a vehicle search by four white officers from St. Charles Parish Sheriff’s Office.

In the district court, Mr. Otkins argued it was unlawful to prolong his detention and search his vehicle based on one officer’s claim he allegedly detected the odor of marijuana. Mr. Otkins presented evidence that officer’s claim was not believable and highly implausible. Mr. Otkins explained the officers violated his Fourth Amendment rights by prolonging his detention for a drug dog sniff without reasonable suspicion and searching his vehicle without legitimate probable cause.

The district court dismissed Mr. Otkins’ claims against the officers based on a finding that no genuine dispute of material fact existed. The court dismissed the claims before a jury was allowed to hear the case. Following that dismissal at summary judgment, Mr. Otkins initiated this appeal.

In his appellate case, Mr. Otkins argues the district court misapplied the summary judgment standard by finding the officers did not commit a constitutional violation. The district court ignored Mr. Otkins’ sworn testimony and chose to credit the officers instead. Mr. Otkins details the evidence offered to the district court which demonstrated a genuine dispute of fact regarding whether the officer detected a marijuana odor. Further, he continues to argue it was clearly established that a traffic stop cannot be prolonged for a drug dog sniff without reasonable suspicion and that a warrantless vehicle search cannot be conducted absent probable cause.

The Defendants-Appellees in this case are:

  • Jack Gilboy
  • William Roth
  • Joshua Deroche
  • Barrett Pearse
  • John Doe 1-10

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