The Miami-Dade Police Department has been ordered to return almost $20,000 in cash seized from an exotic dancer during the illegal search of her husband’s car.
The Miami Herald reports officers pulled over Ras Cates and wife, Lizmixell Batista, after they cut off a patrol car on the highway. During the stop, cops seized six guns, several bottles of codeine cough syrup without a valid prescription and $19,934 in cash from Batista, who works as a stripper at Cheetah Gentleman’s Club.
Police went on to brag about the bust to a local news station, saying, ““It’s amazing how something as simple as a traffic stop can lead us to crack a lot of cases. A lot of serial killers are behind bars because of traffic stops.”
As it turns out, officers didn’t follow proper search protocol, rendering it unjust, according to the couple’s defense attorney.
“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.
Bodycam footage shows an officer searching Cates’ trunk without permission. He also told police before the search that he had a valid permit to carry concealed weapons, yet officers seized them anyway. They also seized the nearly $20K from Batista, believing it to be drug money.
Judge Rodney Smith ruled there was no probable cause for the seizure and ordered the money be returned to the couple. The police department will also pay for the couple’s legal fees.