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The original item was published from 1/29/2016 9:30:29 AM to 3/5/2016 5:00:05 PM.

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District Attorney

Posted on: January 29, 2016

[ARCHIVED] Jailed Heroin Dealer Loses Appeal that Police Wrongly Perceived “Body Part” as a Gun

A convicted drug dealer serving up to 10 years in prison was recently denied relief from the Pennsylvania Superior Court.

Edward Roman Garza argued on appeal that state police found heroin and cocaine on him during a 2013 traffic stop via an illegal pat-down.

State police troopers, during the stop in East Lampeter Township, noticed a bulge near Garza’s groin – which they thought was a gun – so a trooper grabbed it. The trooper realized it was a package containing bundles of heroin.

Garza, 30, argued on appeal that he told the trooper the bulge was “part of his anatomy,” and the trooper had no reason to pat him down.

The high court disagreed, finding the trooper had “reasonable suspicion to justify a pat-down search,” a 9-page opinion states.

The troopers, the opinion states, had reason to fear for their safety and conduct the search because:
- The bulge could reasonably be perceived to be a gun.
- It was late at night.
- Garza and his two passengers all had criminal histories.
- Garza lied about his name and where he was traveling.

Police recovered 75 bundles of heroin and 2 ounces of cocaine.

He was convicted at trial and sentenced last year to 3 to 10 years in state prison.

Assistant District Attorney Julie Slabinski won the conviction.

(See CrimeWatch/Twitter for Garza's photo.)

MEDIA CONTACT: Brett A. Hambright, 717-295-2041;; Twitter: @BrettHambright

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