The Miami-Dade Police Department was ordered to return nearly $20,000 in cash taken from a stripper during an illegal search of her husband’s vehicle.
Back in May, Miami-Dade officers pulled over Ras Cates, 33, and his wife, Lizmixell Batista, 20, when their car cut off a patrol car. During the stop, the officers seized six guns, three of them assault-style rifles, suspected marijuana oil, several bottles of powerful codeine cough syrup without a valid prescription, and $19,934 in cash from the 20-year-old, who works as stripper at Cheetah Gentleman's Club in Hallandale Beach, reported the Miami Herald.
After the stop, the Miami-Dade police spoke to local news station WFOR-CBS4 and bragged about the stop.
“It’s amazing how something as simple as a traffic stop can lead us to crack a lot of cases,” a police spokesman told the news station. “A lot of serial killers are behind bars because of traffic stops."
Although the couple was charged with armed drug dealing and other felonies, their defense lawyer says the entire arrest was unjust.
“What is most disturbing is that immediately following the arrest, the department went on TV and engaged in incendiary speculation without knowing the facts or even acknowledging the rampant violations of my clients’ constitutional rights," defense attorney Jude Faccidomo told the Miami Herald.
Body-worn camera footage from the stop showed the officers search Cates’ trunk without getting permission. Cates told cops he legally owned the weapons and had a valid concealed-weapons permit, yet his weapons were still taken even though he told the truth.
Lawyers for Cates are still trying to get the guns back.
Also captured on the body cam was the moment when officers searched Batista's purse and found the money.
"I was supposed to go the bank to deposit the money. We got bills to pay, sweetie," she told police.
However, the Miami-Dade police department's legal bureau assumed it was dope money and asked a civil-court judge to allow the department to keep the $19,934 seized in the car.
Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Rodney Smith agreed there was no probable cause for the seizure and ordered the money be returned to the couple and that the department foot the bill for the couple’s legal fees.
(Photo: Miami-Dade Police Department)