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NJ cops claim driver smells like marijuana, conduct roadside search of his butt, genitals

Body cam footage (Photo: New Jersey Police)

Two New Jersey State Police Troopers searched a man's butt and genital area after claiming he reeked of marijuana during a traffic stop.

The search was captured on a trooper's body camera, which John Paff, a government records watchdog, posted online Monday. Paff submitted an OPRA request for footage after the driver's attorney, Arthur Lang, filed the notice of claim under the Tort Claims Act on Jan. 22.

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According to court documents, Jack Levine was driving to work on March 8, 2017, when he was stopped by Trooper Joseph Drew for tailgating. After approaching his vehicle, Drew asks Levine if he has a medical marijuana card.

Levine says no, but Drew says he smells marijuana and asks Levine to step out of the vehicle. Drew handcuffs Levine and places him in the back of his police cruiser.

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The video shows Drew patting down the outside of Levine's pants and using his finger to pull the pants forward so he can look inside. "Try not to rape me, already," Levine says.

Throughout the encounter, the officers repeatedly claim Levine reeks of weed while Levine is heard telling them he doesn't have any.

A second trooper, Andrew Whitmore, was also present at the scene and named in the tort notice. Whitmore is heard in the video telling Drew that there was "definitely an odor" coming from Levine's pants.

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After the troopers don't find anything in the vehicle or in an initial search of Levine's pockets, Levine asks if he can leave. The following exchange is captured on video.

Levine: "So am I free to go?"
Whitmore: "Not at this point, no"
Levine: "Am I under arrest?"
Whitmore: "Yes. you are."
Levine: "For what?"
Whitmore: "You're under arrest for the odor of marijuana."
Levine: "So now you can get arrested for somebody smelling something? What is that all about?"

That's when Drew pulls out latex gloves and tells Levine he's going to search his genital area.

Levine asks for the search to be done in view of the dashboard camera so Drew moves him in front of his police cruiser.

As he's being searched Levine shouts, "Did you find it? Did you find it?"

After Drew turns him around and unzips his pants to search further Levine says, "Yo, you guys are really ridiculous. You might as well ask me on a f-----g date."

RELATED: 12th grader reeking of marijuana, caught with weed, digital scale

After the search comes up empty Drew uncuffs Levine and issues him a ticket for tailgating. The ticket was later dismissed in municipal court.

Levine claims the intrusive search violated his rights and intends to pursue legal action against the officers. "It was the most humiliating experience I've ever been through, also due to the fact people were driving by very slowly, watching him with his hand down my pants," he said in his tort claim.

A State Police spokesman, Sgt. Jeff Flynn, confirmed an internal investigation into the incident is ongoing. The troopers remain on active duty, he said.

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