LIMA — The attorney for a Lima man facing multiple criminal charges, including the designation as a major drug offender, maintains an illegal traffic stop was at the heart of the eventual discovery of all evidence in the state’s case against his client.
Attorney Dustin Blake on Wednesday questioned three law enforcement officers who played a role in a traffic stop executed against McKenzie Kirkman earlier this year.
Kirkman, 41, was arrested Feb. 2 after fleeing police during the traffic stop which Blake maintains was unconstitutional, in part, because the arresting officer never witnessed the alleged traffic violations.
Kirkman was stopped by an Allen County Sheriff’s Office deputy at the intersection of South Main Street and Kibby Street in the city of Lima. According to testimony Wednesday in Allen County Common Pleas Court the stop was ordered by Aaron Montgomery, an employee of the West Central Ohio Crime Task Force who was conducting an investigation into suspected drug activity on Kirkman’s part. The alleged traffic violations — offenses which often do not result in citations being issued — included failure to signal a turn and a cross-bar violation for failing to come to a complete stop at an intersection.
Kirkman fled after a K-9 officer alerted its handler to the suspected presence of drugs in the vehicle. He was seen pulling a plastic bag from the waistband of his pants, officers testified. More than 245 grams of cocaine was discovered at the scene. That evidence, in turn, was used to convince a judge to grant a search warrant at Kirkman’s home on McDonel Street.
He was subsequently indicted in March for possession of cocaine, a first-degree felony with specifications as a major drug offender and also for the forfeiture of money and properties in a drug case. The properties include residences at 381 S. McDonel St., 1405 Hazel Ave., 707 N.McDonel St. and 771 Atlantic Ave.
Kirkman was also charged with two additional counts of trafficking in cocaine.
Blake, in a motion filed in April, argued that the officer who initiated the traffic stop of Kirkman “lacked jurisdiction under the law” for the stop, rendering any subsequent actions by police unconstitutional. He said the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution “guarantees the right of the people to be secure in their person, houses, papers and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures.”
Copies of video and body camera footage by the officers involved in Kirkman’s arrest were submitted for review by Judge Terri Kohlrieser.