Docket – March 1, 2019

U.S. District Court – Virginia Western

Varner v. Roane, EDVA at Harrisonburg (Dillon).

No reasonable jury could conclude that, in a consensual encounter between the plaintiff and a deputy sheriff, the deputy violated the Fourth Amendment by searching the plaintiff’s truck during that encounter.

The plaintiff alleges that a drug dog used to search Varner’s truck was instead “going over to nearby police cars and alerting to drugs in those police cars.” Then, according to the complaint, another officer slapped on the fender of the plaintiff’s truck, and the dog jumped up on that area of the truck. The plaintiff asserts that the dog’s jump was an “alert” caused by officers on the scene and that the defendant knew the alert was false; yet the defendant nonetheless used that alert to claim there was probable cause to search the plaintiff’s truck. It is undisputed that no drugs were discovered.

There is no evidence from which a reasonable jury could find that the dog’s alert was manufactured. The undisputed facts establish that the dog alerted by pressing his nose against the truck, not by jumping. That positive alert gave officers probable cause to search the plaintiff’s truck. Thus, no reasonable jury could find that the plaintiff’s Fourth Amendment rights were violated by the search.

Motion for summary judgment granted.



Categories: Daily Dockets

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