Appeals court says cops didn’t have probable cause to search woman’s car in I-15 stop

Posted at 5:46 PM, Jun 20, 2014

SALT LAKE CITY -- A federal appeals court has ruled that a pair of southern Utah police officers did not have probable cause to search a California woman's car, keeping her on the side of the road for hours.

Sherida Felders sued Utah Highway Patrol Trooper Brian Bairett and Iron County Sheriff's deputy Jeff Malcom over the November 2008 traffic stop outside Cedar City. Police said they suspected she was transporting drugs. Felders told FOX 13 she believes she was stopped for other reasons.

"I think it was my race," Felders, who is African-American, said Friday. "The car, and I had two young teenagers with me and I was targeted. Yes, sir. I absolutely believe I was."

Felders was driving DeLarryon Hansend and Elijah Madyun from California when they were stopped and their car searched for drugs. In a ruling handed down from the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday, the judges said the officers did not have probable cause to search her car.

Read the ruling from the 10th Circuit Court here:

Felders' lawyer, Robert Sykes, said the police "got a spanking" by the court.

"We have a decision that says you, police officers, must follow the rules, too! You cannot ignore the rules," he said.

The appeals court ruled that the officers are not immune from a lawsuit, either.

In a statement, Malcom's attorney, Frank D. Mylar, said the decision is not a commentary on the facts of the case -- and suggested he may appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Read the statement from Malcom's attorney:

Mylar statement

The case is now expected to go back to a federal court here in Salt Lake City, where it will either proceed to trial or there may be a settlement. Sykes said they have dropped the racial profiling claim and are focusing the lawsuit on an illegal search of Felders' car.

Felders said she would like to put the case behind her.

"It's been so long and I've been through so much, I'd like to get it behind me so I can move on," she said.