WICHITA, Kan. — The DKT Liberty Project, a non-profit public interest group in Washington DC, exposes alleged outrageous and unconstitutional conduct by law enforcement officers. Attorney David B. Smith of Alexandria Virginia has been hired to help 23-year old Salvador Franco and his girlfriend Liliana, who were allegedly robbed and intimidated by police officers, get their confiscated money and property back.
“On March 24, 2016, Franco and Liliana were confronted by a state trooper while stopped at a gas station on I-70 in Kansas. What followed was a nightmare and travesty of justice,” says Smith. “Their individual freedom and civil liberties were clearly violated.”
Per Smith, the couple drove from their home in Nevada to St. Louis with $32,100 in cash to purchase a truck. Deciding not to buy the truck, they stopped at a rest stop on their way back home and were unlawfully detained by a highway patrol officer who told them they were violating Kansas law by not having a front license plate. Having no warrant or probable cause, the officer demanded permission to search Franco’s car. When Franco refused, a drug-sniffing dog was brought to the scene. The officers proceeded to trash the car and seized the $32,100 that was meant to purchase the truck. No drugs were found. Franco and his girlfriend were placed in handcuffs and taken to the police station where they were interviewed separately, questioned for two hours and threatened with up to 10-years in prison. Ultimately, they were not charged with a crime or cited for any traffic violations, and no drugs were found. The police then had the couple sign forfeiture papers and were asked to leave.
“This case shows outrageous and unconstitutional conduct by the trooper, the dog handler, and the Drug Enforcement Agency,” adds Smith. “The dog’s supposed ‘alert’ was a complete sham, and the complaint for forfeiture did not cite evidence to show probable cause for the seizure. When Franco asked to consult with an attorney, his 5th and 6th Amendment rights were not respected and questioning resumed without representation. This scenario and many like it can happen to any one of us. Under our current civil forfeiture laws, police and law enforcement agencies can take personal property with no trial, little due process, and sometimes, no notice. We’ve filed a Claim and will soon file a Motion to Dismiss, the first steps in the legal fight to get Franco’s money back.”
“On that day my whole life changed,” Salvador Franco said. “I was robbed by our own police officers that are here to protect and serve us.”