New York Racial Profiling Case Involving Mohawk Indian and Marijuana


The opinion in People v. Deer is here (it’s from March). An excerpt:

The court believes that Officer Carrier decided to follow the white SUV and do a radio run because the driver appeared nervous. Her actions were completely consistent with a person who was not engaged in any criminal activity. There was no basis to believe that a vehicle with a NYS license plate and registration had crossed the border or was engaged in any way with smuggling persons or contraband across the border. He drove up behind the SUV, coming close enough on a dark night in a rural area to see her license. As he overtook her or followed her, she swerved, a not unexpected result of having someone come up quickly, not pass and start to follow you. The radio run advised him that the person who owned and registered the vehicle lived at an address on or near the Mohawk reservation and had a name that might be consistent with a person of Mohawk heritage. It could, of course, also be a husband’s name and not her own. The officer then drove into Gouverneur, not for the purpose of stopping the vehicle immediately, but to further observe it, according to his testimony. He placed himself in a position to see into the vehicle with street lights, parking lot lights and his headlights. He had the opportunity at that point to observe Corene Deer with her clearly Native American features. He then stopped the vehicle. He was handed the registration sticker which should have been on the windshield. He wrote his report without even mentioning it, clearly indicating to the court that it was in no way the basis for his stop. Although he testified about observing that the sticker was not on a windshield at a point in his narrative of events that might have led the court to believe he observed it prior to the stop, his testimony on cross examination made it clear that he did not observe it prior to the stop, nor was it the basis for the stop.