Police officers are often portrayed as the model for a sharp moral compass; so when they slip up, it is difficult to ignore. Citizens trust the police to protect their best interests. Last month, some of that trust was diminished when five police officers from Chicago and Glenview lied under oath in a court hearing.
The officers were testifying in the case of Joseph Sperling, who was pulled over (without a traffic violation, seemingly out of the blue) and immediately arrested while his car was searched for marijuana. When questioned in court, the officers involved each gave the same story: they claimed that Sperling was pulled over because he had failed to use his turn signal and that when the officer approached his vehicle he could see the drugs from the window. Unfortunately for the officers, their dishonesty was revealed upon discovery of video footage captured when one of them failed to turn off his camera immediately before the arrest.
As Sperling's attorney reminds us, "In America, you have a right not to be searched unless there is probable cause". Given the revealing video footage, there is no telling why the officer chose to pull Sperling over; and searching an individual simply on the chance that he might find something is a clear violation. Furthermore, we ought to be able to rely on the honesty of police officers. Sperling's lawsuit brought forth the larger issue of the "policy and practice" by Chicago police "to pursue wrongful convictions in drug cases through untruthful testimony".
It is fair to assume that there have been other cases like Sperling's which have simply gone unresolved. After all, luck doesn't always find the video footage to support you. His case certainly makes one thing clear: it is essential to have attorneys who know your rights and who will stand up for them.