Not-so-great Scott analogy

Brent Batten’s Wag the Blog

Lee County Sheriff Mike Scott, arguing against a court ruling that limits law enforcement’s ability to search a suspect’s vehicle immediately after their arrest, invoked the memory of the Oklahoma City bombing.
“Timothy McVeigh was pulled over for a minor traffic offense,” Scott said in a prepared statement. “Liberal interpretations and rulings like this serve nobody but the bad guy and feed the bureaucracy and delay associated with obtaining search warrants for a mobile. ... I respect the ruling but strongly disagree.”
The implication is that if the new rule limiting vehicle searches had been in place, McVeigh, who built and detonated a bomb that killed 168 people on April 19, 1995, would have gotten away without being connected to the worst act of domestic terrorism in U.S. history.
Fourteen years is a long time, so perhaps Sheriff Scott’s memory fails him.
But while McVeigh was in fact pulled over for a minor traffic offense _ driving a car without a license plate _ a search of his car did not play a role in his ultimate arrest on the bombing charges.
According to an account given by Charlie Hanger, the then state trooper who first stopped McVeigh, McVeigh would have been taken to jail with or without a roadside search of his vehicle.
Hanger’s recounted the arrest in a speech to the Shawnee Oklahoma Police Foundation earlier this year, which was reported in the Shawnee News-Star newspaper. He told the group he pulled McVeigh over for not having a license tag at about 10:30 a.m., about 90 minutes after the bombing. McVeigh got out of his car and met him between the two cars. Hanger said he noticed a bulge under McVeigh’s jacket, which he asked about. “He looks me in the eye and says, ‘I have a weapon,’” Hanger said. Hanger drew his own gun and pointed at McVeigh’s head. Hanger said McVeigh made a statement that his weapon was loaded. Hanger nudged McVeigh with his pistol and said, “So is mine.”
McVeigh was disarmed and placed in the patrol car. He gave Hanger permission to search his car but Hanger found nothing of significance. The car was left by the side of the road and Hanger drove McVeigh to the county jail. It was there, two days later, that FBI agents found him after following the paper trail he had left planning the bombing.
There may be instances in which a roadside vehicle search yielded evidence that stopped major crime or put a dangerous criminal who would other wise have gone free behind bars.
But the Oklahoma City case isn’t one of them.

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