The state has settled a lawsuit that has dragged on for more than five years involving a motorist who was stopped by the Kansas Highway Patrol.
Peter Vasquez was awarded $67,129.
“I’m happy it’s coming to an end,” Vasquez said. “The only thing that upsets me is that there’s no true repercussions for the troopers.”
In December 2011, Vasquez was stopped by KHP in Wabaunsee County. After being issued a warning, he agreed to answer a couple more questions from Trooper Dax Lewis.
Lewis asked whether there were any drugs in the car. Vasquez said no. Lewis asked if he could search the vehicle. Vasquez said no. He was then detained on suspicion of criminal activity, court documents said.
Nothing illegal was found.
In February 2012, Vasquez filed a civil lawsuit contending he was searched and detained without reasonable suspicion.
In August 2016, a federal appeals court overturned a lower court’s decision to dismiss the case. The court also concluded that the troopers “impermissibly relied” on state residence to justify the search of Vasquez’s car which was registered in Colorado, a state with legalized recreational marijuana use. The Kansas Highway Patrol has repeatedly said the state that issued a license plate isn’t a factor in stops or detentions. The Capital-Journal found that more than 88 percent of significant seizures undertaken by KHP involve out-of-state license plates.
The settlement came about after the U.S. Supreme Court denied the state’s request to hear the case earlier this spring.
Vasquez said the settlement exposes, to a small degree, the corruption of the highway patrol’s practices which he believes include profiling and a lack of respect for constitutional rights.
“It’s about accountability,” he said.
Vasquez said Kansas taxpayers need to ask why they are paying for the troopers’ mistakes.