CrimProf Blog

Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

Monday, November 13, 2006

Police Plant Weapon in Suspect's Car as a Practical Joke

From With a horrified suspect watching, Huntington Beach police planted evidence—a loaded revolver—in the man’s car during a DUI accident investigation in January.

The controversial revelation is not now in dispute although cops, prosecutors and city bureaucrats attempted to keep the incident a secret by sealing records and stalling discovery of related documents. Despite those efforts, the gun incident became an issue during an obscure misdemeanor trial last week at Orange County’s West Court in Westminster. Police officers were forced to admit under oath that a snub-nosed handgun had been tossed like a Frisbee about four feet into the trunk of a Hyundai belonging to Tom Cox, the suspect. The loaded gun bounced twice and slammed up against the driver’s side of the car’s trunk. No bullets were discharged.

Brian Knorr, the uniformed officer who threw the weapon, lowered the trunk lid with the gun inside and stepped back, allegedly waiting for an unsuspecting fellow officer to find it during a search, according to testimony. The officer assigned to search the vehicle eventually located the gun and, startled, turned to Cox holding the revolver in both hands. This officer stared at Cox, who began to panic at the scenario of a weapons charge. Knorr walked over, “elbowed that cop and took the gun back,” said Cox.

Cox said he didn’t definitively learn until several months later that the officers had not filed weapons charges against him. A self-professed fan of law enforcement and TV cop dramas, the 45-year-old Huntington Beach father of two and construction supervisor insisted that most of the officers present at his arrest acted professionally except for the laughter.

Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]

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