Kansas bicyclist sues after police stop leads to illegal search and drug charges
HUTCHINSON, Kan. — A Hutchinson man whose drug conviction was overturned because a court determined he had been illegally searched after he was stopped while riding a bicycle is suing the city and the officer who searched him.
Jon Heter, 55, claims in the lawsuit filed Monday that his arrest in November 2016 was unlawful and violated his constitutional rights. He is seeking more than $75,000 in damages.
Officer Josh Long stopped Heter after noticing he didn’t have a light on his bicycle. Heter gave Long a fake name and refused to provide his birthday, prompting Long to arrest him on suspicion of interfering with law enforcement, The Wichita Eagle reported.
Long searched Heter and found methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia in a container on Heter’s bike. He also learned that there was an outstanding warrant for Heter’s arrest.
Heter was convicted in Reno County of possessing meth and drug paraphernalia. He eventually spent three months in prison before the conviction was overturned, according to the lawsuit.
“Hutchinson violated Jon’s federal rights when he was unlawfully seized, and thus deprived of his rights and privileges secured by the Constitution and laws,” Heter’s attorney, Larry Michel, wrote in the lawsuit. “Hutchinson inadequately trained Officer Long and/or had customs or policies that led to the violation of Jon’s constitutional rights.”
The Kansas Appeals Court ruled in January that the arrest had no legal basis and evidence of the drug crimes should be suppressed because it was found through an illegal search and seizure.
Hutchinson City Manager John Deardoff said Thursday the city would not comment on the lawsuit.