Opinion of the Court
District Court also noted that the officer made "no claim that he suspected this object to be a weapon," id., at C-5, a finding affirmed on appeal, see 469 N. W. 2d, at 464 (the officer "never thought the lump was a weapon"). The Minnesota Supreme Court, after "a close examination of the record," held that the officer's own testimony "belies any notion that he 'immediately' " recognized the lump as crack cocaine. See 481 N. W. 2d, at 844. Rather, the court concluded, the officer determined that the lump was contraband only after "squeezing, sliding and otherwise manipulating the contents of the defendant's pocket"—a pocket which the officer already knew contained no weapon. Ibid.
Under the State Supreme Court's interpretation of the record before it, it is clear that the court was correct in holding that the police officer in this case overstepped the bounds of the "strictly circumscribed" search for weapons allowed under Terry. See Terry, 392 U. S., at 26. Where, as here, "an officer who is executing a valid search for one item seizes a different item," this Court rightly "has been sensitive to the danger . . . that officers will enlarge a specific authorization, furnished by a warrant or an exigency, into the equivalent of a general warrant to rummage and seize at will." Texas v. Brown, 460 U. S., at 748 (Stevens, J., concurring in judgment). Here, the officer's continued exploration of respondent's pocket after having concluded that it contained no weapon was unrelated to "[t]he sole justification of the search [under Terry:] . . . the protection of the police officer and others nearby." 392 U. S., at 29. It therefore amounted to the sort of evidentiary search that Terry expressly refused to authorize, see id., at 26, and that we have condemned in subsequent cases. See Michigan v. Long, 463 U. S., at 1049, n. 14; Sibron, 392 U. S., at 65-66. Once again, the analogy to the plain-view doctrine is apt.
In Arizona v. Hicks, 480 U. S. 321 (1987), this Court held invalid the seizure of stolen stereo equipment found by police while executing a valid search for other evidence. AlthoughPage: Index Previous 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 Next
Last modified: October 4, 2007