Gun found during Galloway car stop was not seized legally, state’s top court rules
A gun found in a purse during a 2013 Galloway Township motor vehicle stop was not seized legally, the state Supreme Court ruled Monday. Dion Robinson was pulled over after Officer Vincent Ceci noticed him driving erratically, according to court documents. Robinson and one of the three passengers in the car both had outstanding warrants and were known to carry guns, a dispatcher told Ceci during the stop. He called for backup and the vehicle was secured as Robinson and Terron Henderson were cuffed and the two other passengers — Catilya Carson and Marcus Sanders — were kept under watch away from the car. While doing a sweep inside the vehicle, Ceci moved Carson’s purse and felt what he believed to be the outline of a gun. He opened the purse to find a weapon, and Robinson — as the driver — was charged. He took a plea deal after unsuccessfully arguing that the gun was found illegally. But an appellate decision ruled that, because the officers had been quick in securing the vehicle and keeping it inaccessible to the occupants, it did not fall under a protective sweep, which allows for a warrantless search when there’s “a reasonable suspicion that a driver or passenger ‘is dangerous and may gain immediate access to weapons.’” The state appealed that ruling, and on Monday, the state Supreme Court confirmed the appellate decision. The case is now sent back to court, where the state can argue that the gun would have been found under “eventual discovery,” the justices wrote. Robinson has already served the mandatory minimum three years of his five-year sentence on the weapons charge, and was released last June, according to state Department of Corrections records.