ACLU files lawsuit against state following traffic stop

The Vermont chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union is going to bat for a Rutland motorist filing a lawsuit against the Vermont State Police for its handling of a March traffic stop on U.S. Route 7 in Wallingford.

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State Trooper Lewis Hatch said he pulled over the driver, Greg Zullo, 21, because some snow obscured the renewal decal on the corner of the rear license plate.

ACLU lawyer Dan Barrett said that isn’t even a violation of Vermont statute – as the rest of Zullo’s license plate was perfectly readable – and said the events that followed violated Zullo’s rights under the state constitution.

Raw Video: VSP dashboard camera footage of the stop.

The incident was captured on the VSP dashboard camera system and shows Hatch requesting the man to get out of the car.

Zullo complied.

Hatch said he’d detected a “faint odor” of marijuana coming from the vehicle.

Zullo agreed to be searched.

A police dog is heard barking loudly as Zullo empties his pockets on the hood, and is “frisked” – his shoes removed and inspected – all turning up no evidence of a crime.

But Zullo declined — repeatedly — to allow police to search his car.

Hatch decided to have it towed away.

“I can smell weed. He won’t let me search it, so I’m just going to take it,” Hatch is heard telling a fellow trooper. “It’s stupid, but whatever, it’s what he wants to do.”

Barrett said Zullo has been arrested once before for marijuana possession, but the charge was dropped.

In the video, a flatbed truck arrives about an hour after the initial stop, loaded Zullo’s car and took it away …read more