The Illinois Cop who pulled Philip M. Williams over for an expired license plate sticker last August told the 31-year-old man that he smelled marijuana, which gave him probable cause to bring the police dog over and sniff around the car.
Despite Williams saying he did not consent to a search, the dog ended up finding 17 pounds of marijuana in the trunk, which led to his arrest on felony drug charges.
In his report, Woodstock police officer Eric Schmidtke stated that he had smelled marijuana, which gave him probable cause.
He also repeated the same line to a grand jury in September, who then indicted Williams on felony drug charges, where he was facing 30 years in prison.
Schmidtke and his partner were even recognized at the Woodstock City Council meeting on October 4 for their “exceptional work” in keeping the streets safe from drug suspects.
But then a dash cam video surfaced later that month showing Schmidtke telling his partner that he had never smelled marijuana, proving he never had probable cause to search the car.
As a result, charges were dropped against Williams before he even made it to trial.
Last week, he filed a lawsuit against both Schmidtke and his K9 partner, Sharon Freund, who allowed her dog to search the car even though she had been told he never smelled the marijuana.
The dash cam video, posted below, shows Schmidtke prolonging the traffic stop to bring the dog over after telling Williams he smelled marijuana.
He then walks around to the back of the car, standing in front of his own car, where he admits to Freund that he did not smell the marijuana but wanted to search the car because Williams had prior drug arrests.
At first, Freund expresses concern about searching the car without probable cause, but then goes through with it after he informs her of the prior arrests.
“He lied under oath,” said Louis Meyer, a civil rights attorney representing Williams. “It’s as clear as day.”
Meyer said Schmidtke’s assertion he could smell the 17 pounds of vacuum-packed marijuana allegedly found in a duffel bag in Williams’ trunk was central to prolonging the otherwise routine traffic stop. Schmidtke had pulled over Williams near the intersection of Dean Street and Highway 14 for expired vehicle registration, and Williams did not consent to a search of his vehicle, the lawsuit states.
Schmidtke wrote in his police report he could smell marijuana coming from Williams’ car, prompting him to call Officer Sharon Freund, a police canine handler, to search Williams’ vehicle with a dog, according to the lawsuit. Likewise, a Woodstock Police statement issued Aug. 31 said an unnamed officer, later identified as Schmidtke, “could detect the scent of cannabis emitting from within the vehicle.”
Meyer said that was a lie, and that a video/audio recording taken from a Woodstock squad car during the arrest proves it. He said he believes Schmidtke repeated the lie during his grand jury testimony.
On the video, “Schmidtke says [to Freund,] ‘I can’t smell anything,'” Meyer said. The lawsuit states the officers did not know their conversation was being recorded.
“We’re alleging this is a Fourth Amendment violation, that he prolonged the traffic stop and fabricated a reason to do so by falsely claiming he could smell the marijuana.”
The lawsuit, says it is a “wide-spread practice” for the Woodstock Police Department to violate Constitutional rights to obtain arrests.
Last year, the United States Supreme Court ruled that cops are not allowed to extend traffic stops for the purpose of conducting searches if no probable cause exists.