Back in November of 2018, Basel Soukaneh was driving in the city of Waterbury when the GPS navigation on his smart phone glitched and froze. Soukaneh pulled his car over to the curb so he could deal with that minor inconvenience, not realizing that within a few minutes, he’d be in handcuffs.
A police officer pulled up behind Soukaneh, and the officer approached the Kia Sorrento where Soukaneh was sitting. When the officer demanded Soukaneh’s license, he complied, but also handed the officer his gun permit and informed the cop that did have a pistol in the driver’s side door. According to Soukaneh, that’s when Officer Nicholas Andrzejewski “forcibly removed” the gun owner from his car, slapped him in handcuffs, and placed him the back of his cruiser while he searched Soukaneh and his vehicle.
Andrzejewski found pills in Soukaneh’s possession, but they turned out to be nitroglycerin for his heart and not any type of illegal narcotic. The officer also seized $320 in cash and a thumb drive that had photos of Soukaneh’s late father on it. All this after Soukaneh had promptly informed the officer that he had a permit to carry and he did have a firearm on him.
After Soukaneh’s detention, he filed a lawsuit against the officer claiming that his Fourth Amendment rights had been violated, and this week U.S. District Judge Janet Bond Arterton agreed; rejecting Andrzejewski’s claims that he had probable cause to detain Soukaneh and search his car, and even if he didn’t, the case should be dismissed because of qualified immunity.