ACLU files lawsuit against Starke County deputy

The ACLU of Indiana has filed a lawsuit against a Starke County deputy for allegedly searching a vehicle without cause during a traffic stop, according to court records.

The ACLU filed the lawsuit on behalf of the three men who were in the vehicle - Nicholas Tyo, Steven Stanley and Drew Landes against Deputy Ethan Biggs.

In July 20201, the three men were in a vehicle traveling from Ohio to Chicago to attend Pokemon GO Fest 2021.

During the traffic stop, Deputy Biggs asked all three occupants of the vehicle for the IDs then returned to his patrol vehicle, according to the lawsuit.

After returning to Stanley's vehicle, he asked the three men if there were drugs in the vehicle. They replied there were no drugs in the vehicle, the lawsuit said.

Deputy Biggs then brought his K9 out and conducted a free air sniff of the vehicle, then returned the K9 to his patrol vehicle.

When Deputy Biggs returned to Stanley's vehicle, the deputy said the dog had alerted to the presence of drugs, according to the lawsuit.

The deputy then asked all three men to get out of the vehicle, then patted them down, the lawsuit said.

All three men were told to sit on the deputy's patrol vehicle while Deputy Biggs and another deputy searched their vehicle, the lawsuit said.

Once the search was complete and nothing illegal was found, Deputy Biggs gave their licenses back and said he had conducted the traffic stop because the driver was speeding, according to the lawsuit.

Deputy Biggs did not issue a warning or citation for the speeding.

The lawsuit alleges Deputy Biggs' behavior violated the plaintiffs' Fourth Amendment rights.

ABC57 has contacted the Starke County Sheriff's Office for an interview or statement about the lawsuit. We are awaiting a response.

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