SC Supreme Court Reverses COA; “Tennis Ball” Search Valid

State v. Taylor

Police responded to an anonymous call that a black man on a bicycle appeared to be selling drugs in a “high crime area.” Police arrived and saw a black male on a bike “huddled up” with another male; they both attempted to flee when police approached. Police detained Taylor and performed a Terry frisk, removing a tennis ball from Taylor’s pocket. The ball fell to the ground, and the officer picked it up, squeezing it. The officer saw a slit in the ball, and saw that there was crack inside. The Court of Appeals held that this search and seizure was improper.

The Supreme Court reverses the Court of Appeals, holding that (1) the officer had reasonable suspicion sufficient to detain Taylor, and (2) the officer’s manipulation of the tennis ball was permitted, because “The tennis ball could have easily contained a razor, or other sharp object, which could be used alone or in conjunction with the tennis ball as a handle,” and further “the police officer [did not manipulate] the tennis ball any more than was necessary in order to pick it up from the ground.”

Read the full opinion here.

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