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Thursday, June 13, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Cops Fight Demand for Phone Records

ST. LOUIS (CN) - Officers accused of leaking gory photos of a suspect lying dead in his own blood have asked a city judge to prohibit the St. Louis Police Department's Internal Affairs Division from making them hand over personal cell phone records.

The officers, identified only by initials, say the request violates their 4th Amendment protection from unreasonable search and seizure, particularly since the cell phones are in the names of the officers' wives and family members.

"The order of the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department to produce records of a cellular phone not owned by the individual employees and/or containing personal information of non-employees is invalid and unlawful, as the owners of the accounts and/or information contained in the account statements are not employees of the Metropolitan Police Department," according to the complaint in City Court.

"Petitioners do not have the authority to require their family members to voluntarily consent to produce their cellular telephone records and/or the information contained therein, which include their personal businesses records."

The plaintiffs say the city Police Department has never issued a policy on review of personal property such as cell phones and pagers, as established by the case, City of Ontario v. Quon.

"Should the SLMPD be allowed to review such records, the review would amount to a warrantless search in violation of the 4th Amendment and 14th Amendments, and would be excessively intrusive in nature," the complaint states.

The photo allegedly was taken of Carlos Boles on March 8 this year.

Boles allegedly shot and killed U.S. Marshal John Perry, who was part of a group trying to serve him with a warrant. Boles was gunned down in an ensuing gunfight with officers who accompanied Perry.

Days later, photos of Boles lying dead in a pool of his own blood were leaked to the public through email and text messages.

A private citizen who received a photo of Boles contacted the department's Internal Affairs Division with a tip about the plaintiffs, the complaint states.

Internal Affairs then required the officers to turn over their cell phone records from March 8 to March 18 or face disciplinary action, including firing.

The plaintiffs want the order to deliver the phone records enjoined.

They are represented by John Bouhasin.

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