In a lawsuit filed in federal court, San Diego resident Justin Stewart says police officers violated his Fourth Amendment rights and discriminated against him after they found a "tugger" in his front pocket, a device used to restore foreskin on a circumcised penis, while conducting an illegal search.
The 22-year-old Tierrasanta resident was walking home with a friend from a nearby rec center at 8pm on July 25. Two police officers stopped the men in the parking lot of the Gaspar de Portola Middle School.
The Officers questioned Stewart and his friend, claiming they smelled marijuana on Stewart. He told them that he had a valid prescription to treat his depression and later denied their request to search his pockets. But the two officers insisted on searching him anyways. They stopped at his front pocket and pulled out an unknown medical device.
"...the Officer removed the device from Stewart’s pocket and repeatedly questioned Stewart regarding its nature while handling the device and examining it. Stewart repeatedly stated that it was a personal medical device. During the entire encounter, Stewart remained facing away from the Officers with his wrists held together in front of him as originally ordered."
After learning what the device was, officers handcuffed Stewart and placed him in the back of their cruiser. They searched his backpack, finding an eighth of an ounce of marijuana, condoms, a pipe, and a notebook which contained his medical marijuana recommendation. Nonetheless, the officers cited him for possession of marijuana.
Stewart says the officers violated his Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights and caused "physical distress, mental distress, humiliation, embarrassment, and other forms of pain and suffering."
"Upon information and belief, the Officers’ conduct was motivated by evil motive and intent, including discrimination against Stewart because he was a medical marijuana patient and because of his personal medical decisions."
The City has not yet filed a response to the complaint.