Federal prosecutors have dismissed all charges against a Black passenger accused of bringing heroin into Maine after a federal judge last month suppressed drug evidence obtained by the Maine state trooper who stopped the vehicle on the Maine Turnpike.
The trooper, John Darcy, has been accused of racial profiling, and the case against the passenger marks the second case in which prosecutors have dropped charges against a Black defendant whose car Darcy had stopped. He was the Maine State Police Trooper of the Year in 2019.
U.S. District Judge Nancy Torresen determined that video of the traffic stop contradicted Darcy’s stated reasons for pulling over the vehicle on the Maine Turnpike on June 26, 2019, about six miles north of the York toll plaza. She ruled that prosecutors could not use the drug evidence Darcy collected during the traffic stop.
The U.S. attorney’s office for Maine, which was prosecuting the case in federal court, on Wednesday dropped the case, filing papers in U.S. District Court in Portland stating that the evidence prosecutors were still allowed to use was “insufficient to prove the charge,” the television station WMTW reported Wednesday.
Darcy pulled over the vehicle because it allegedly was going just 45 mph, because it crossed out of the lane and into the breakdown lane at least three times, and because it was late at night.
Darcy and other troopers searched their vehicle and found 52 grams of heroin, WMTW reported.
But Torresen found the video from Darcy’s dashboard camera contradicted the trooper’s testimony at a suppression hearing held in September. She found that the video did not show the vehicle crossing from the right lane over the fog line and going into the breakdown lane, as Darcy testified.
Torresen also cast doubt on Darcy’s claim that the vehicle was traveling 45 mph, based on the time that elapsed between Darcy’s call to a dispatcher to run the license plate number and his pulling the vehicle over.
The passenger’s attorneys argued that the traffic stop and vehicle search violated their constitutional rights under the Fourth Amendment, which protects people from unreasonable searches and seizures by the government, WMTW reported.