Vasquez v. Lewis, No. 14-3278 (10th Cir. 2016)Annotate this Case
This issue this case presented for the Tenth Circuit's review centered on whether, under the totality of circumstances, two Kansas Highway Patrol Officers had reasonable suspicion to detain and search the vehicle of Peter Vasquez. In particular, this case presented the question of what weight to afford the state citizenship of a motorist in determining the validity of a search. Vasquez argued that after stopping him for a traffic violation, the Officers detained him and searched his car without reasonable suspicion. As justification, the Officers claimed, among other things, Vasquez was a citizen of Colorado, driving alone on Interstate 70 from Colorado through Kansas, in the middle of the night, in a recently purchased, older-model car. The district court concluded the Officers were entitled to qualified immunity because Vasquez’s asserted right was not clearly established. The Tenth Circuit disagreed, concluding the Officers acted without reasonable suspicion and violated clearly established precedent. In particular, the Court concluded that the Officers impermissibly relied on Vasquez’s status as a resident of Colorado to justify the search of his vehicle. The Court reversed and remanded this case to the district court for further proceedings.