The Explainer: Stop, search and seize? I think not, officer

Dear Explainer,
After months of searching for a job in my field, I finally got an offer. I accepted, even though it was across the country. I emptied my bank account, loaded up a U-Haul truck with  my personal possessions — mostly bikes and books — and made the big move from my home in Atlanta to Northern California.

Mind if I have a look? Yes, as a matter of fact, I do.

In Missouri, I got pulled over by a local sheriff’s deputy who said I had a brake light out. (I later checked the lights and they were working .) I am not one to play the “race card,” but I think you should know that I am a black man in my late 20s with dreads.

Anyway, the deputy got pretty worked up when he saw the big wad of cash (I think it was around $2,000) in my wallet when I pulled out my license. He got really aggressive and demanded that I let him search the truck. At first, I said “no,” but he told me he could confiscate my cash as “suspected drug proceeds” and that things would go much more quickly if I cooperated. I just wanted to get back on the road and I finally agreed and let him search.

It didn’t go fast and he unpacked the entire load in the back of the truck. And, no, he didn’t find anything. Not only did I have to repack the contents, but while he was digging through my stuff, he scratched the finish on my Colnago and dropped a heavy box of books on one of my racing wheels. Dammit! A Zipp 404 isn’t cheap and I had to get the wheel repaired to replace spokes. The rim survived, but I don’t think he cared. Can I bill the department for the damage to my wheel and frame? I get pissed off every time I get on my bike and see that ugly scratch on the top tube.
― James

Read the complete column on Red Kite Prayer