Skip to comments.Police drug search intrudes on husband's final moments with deceased wife
Posted on 01/07/2013 1:48:37 AM PST by Slings and Arrows
VERNAL A man says Vernal police disrupted an intimate moment of mourning with his deceased wife of 58 years when they searched his house for her prescription medication without a warrant within minutes of her death.
Ben D. Mahaffey, 80, said he was distraught and trying to make sure his wife's body would be taken to the funeral home with dignity, when he says officers insisted he help them look for the drugs.
"I was holding her hand saying goodbye when all the intrusion happened," he told the Deseret News.
Mahaffey said he was treated as if he were going to sell the painkillers, which included OxyContin, oxycodone and morphine, on the street.
"I had no interest in the drugs," he said. "I'm no addict."
Mahaffey filed a federal lawsuit Thursday, alleging police violated his Fourth and 14th amendment rights against unreasonable search and seizure and for equal protection under the law, respectively.
The officers' actions "at the deeply intimate setting, and during a highly distressing time, added a great amount of pain and distress to any already difficult situation," the lawsuit states.
Following the incident, Mahaffey asked Vernal city officials and police administrators why officers would search his home without a warrant. He said he was told the Utah Controlled Substances Act provides authority for the search.
According to the lawsuit, Mahaffey also said city manager Ken Bassett dismissed his concerns, saying he was "overly sensitive" and that police were just trying to protect the public from illegal use of prescription drugs.
Fackrell said there's nothing in the controlled substances act that allows police to enter a home and search for prescription drugs without a warrant.
He said it's apparently common practice for Vernal police when someone dies, but that it's selectively applied.
(Excerpt) Read more at deseretnews.com ...
Just wannabe cops...nothing more than that. They don’t know much better because they are really trained or qualified.
Something smells here. How did the police come to be at the home anyway? Does hospice in the state of Utah contact them in all death notice cases? My experience is that the Hospice nurse will collect all unused medications after the death and destroy them with witnesses. This is very bizarre.
As a police officer, we are called to almost all deaths as a matter of course. My guess here is they were attempting to establish a medical histroy on her in order to sign off and get out of there. It is an uncomfortable and intrusive time, and needs tact and empathey. And if they asked for his help and he gave it...no warrant is needed...its called consent.
I hope that guy wins the lawsuit in spades.
How dare subjects of the state attempt to treat or medicate themselves! It’s not like you have the right to treat your own body as you see fit. You will do as told, or you will be enslaved and sold.
“the Utah Controlled Substances Act provides authority for the search”
If true, would that law not be unconstitutional?
The Constitution isn’t much in fashion in policy-making circles.
No. The constitution is the rules for the Federal Government. Not the states.
Or at least that was the founders intent.
Close but not quite. The Constitution is the law of the land but whatever is doesn't cover is left to the States to decide. But no State can write a law the supersedes the Constitution.
"THAT" is what the Founders intended.
“But no State can write a law the supersedes the Constitution.”
Precisely the idea stated by the Virginia Supreme Court when striking down a city ordinance prevent open carry in the city of Norfolk. Virginia law allows open carry and the city cannot supercede the law of the state.
I know of several incidents locally wherein that happened. In fact it had become routine.
Or using them.
Turned the Po-Po into an armed militia with supra-constitutional authority.