No weapons were found in the passenger compartment of the car. At that point, backup officers had arrived, and Noyes asked another officer, Raymond Landry, to search the area behind the rear seats.
The first bag checked turned out to contain the guns.
The judge noted that at some point during the encounter, Noyes instructed a dispatcher to check all three individuals in the car for warrants. None of them had any warrants. The judge, in his ruling, noted that Newcomb is white, while Jones and Palmer are African-American.
“Noyes did not have sufficient reasonable suspicion at the time of the stop, or for that matter, during the duration of the stop, to believe that the occupants of the vehicle were engaged in criminal activity related to burglaries along Route 110 or drug distribution,” Feeley wrote.
The judge said in his ruling that while Noyes was not justified in making the sweep, he “would have been well within his rights ... to engage in a consensual encounter with the vehicle,” suggesting that he could have simply pulled alongside the car, without turning on the police lights, and asked the driver what she was doing there at that hour. That might have eventually elicited enough information to justify a search, said the judge.