Noticed anything funny attached to the top of a light pole in your neighborhood lately? It could be a police surveillance camera. A judge recently threw out surveillance evidence in a case against a suspected drug dealer in Washington because police officers placed a webcam on utility pole outside his house without a warrant.
The camera was about 100 yards from Leonel Vargas' front door. Police began watching the man because they thought he was dealing drugs and could have been in the country illegally. The camera caught the suspect shooting a gun for target practice and used that as justification to search his house.
A search found four weapons and five grams of methamphetamine—evidence the judge tossed out on Monday.
Sounds like an open and shut case, right? Not so fast. The Justice Department is arguing that it didn't violate the Fourth Amendment because it was recording from public space. But, the judge hearing the case disagreed.