Lasou Kuyateh was pulled over by NYPD officers, Kyle Erickson and Elmer Pastran, in 2018 after allegedly smelling marijuana emanating from his car. Kuyateh, who was with three other passengers, denied having the substance in possession, despite admitting they had been smoking it, The New York Times reported.
But after Pastran searched the car and found nothing, Erickson allegedly found a marijuana cigarette when he took his turn to search.
While searching, his body camera was switched off. He, however, turned it back on after allegedly discovering the marijuana cigarette. In the footage of the incident that was obtained by The New York Times, Kuyateh could even be heard shouting Erickson was putting something in his car. Adamant Erickson planted the marijuana cigarette in his car, Kuyateh rejected a plea deal. He, however, spent two weeks in jail.
Charges were eventually dropped by prosecutors after it was established the body camera footage, which was the key piece of evidence, was switched off prior to Erickson discovering the substance, according to The Intercept. Prosecutors also established Erickson, who alleged the camera went off as a result of a “technical difficulty”, might need a lawyer.
This, however, isn’t the first time Erickson has been accused of planting marijuana in a car. A few weeks after the first incident, the NYPD officer was caught on camera in similar act. The video, which was obtained by The Intercept, surfaced almost two years after the incident.
This time also, the suspect, Jason Serrano, denied having the substance in possession. The car he was in was also pulled over after Erickson and Pastran alleged they smelled marijuana emanating from the car.
“There’s nothing to say, the video speaks for itself,” Serrano said. “I didn’t have no marijuana, I had no weed, I had no drugs, I wasn’t driving, it wasn’t my car, the taillight wasn’t broken.”
During the stop, Serrano was forced out of the car, despite telling the officers he could not move as a result of a wound he sustained in a stabbing incident which resulted in him having an abdominal surgery.
“They said I was resisting arrest, but I just didn’t want to hit the floor, the only thing I was thinking about was this,” he told The Intercept, as he pointed to his stomach. “I still had staples in me. … I couldn’t even stand up straight.”
After several searches, Erickson, in the video, can be seen placing what looks like a marijuana bud in the car’s drink holder on two separate occasions. According to the news platform, there are similarities with the correspondence between the officers in both incidents, including Erickson saying, “We have to find something. … You know what I mean?”, and asking Pastran, “You good?”
Unlike Kuyateh, Serrano, who only saw the footage of the traffic stop for the first time earlier this year, took a plea deal.
“They had no reason to stop me at all, besides harassment,” Serrano said. “They couldn’t even tell me what I did wrong. Oh, you smell weed? You smell weed because you placed the little nugget there. You smell weed because it’s on you, that’s why.”
Erickson and Pastran are still at post.