Police in Florida have been criticised for allegedly entering a funeral home in a futile bid to unlock a dead man's smartphone.
After his body was released to the Sylvan Abbey Funeral Home, his family say, two police officers tried to use his finger to unlock his mobile phone. "While Chaney said detectives didn't think they'd need a warrant because there is no expectation of privacy after death â€" an opinion several legal experts affirmed â€" the actions didn't sit right with Phillip's family. According to the Tampa Bay Times, Phillip was shot while attempting to flee when an officer was about to search him.
They are also demanding video footage from the incident in which Phillip was killed, WFTS-TV reported.
Authorities had linked Phillip to a separate drug inquiry that they were investigating and were hoping to access data on his phone that could assist their case. The Associated Press reports that 30-year-old Linus Phillip was killed by a Largo police officer last month.
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Charles Rose, a professor at Stetson University College of Law, told the Tampa Bay Times that dead people can't assert their Fourth Amendment protections because you can't own property when you're dead.
Police said that they pulled Phillip over to search because his vehicle's windows were illegally tinted, and that they could smell marijuana coming from the auto, according to the station.
Another expert, Remigius Nwabueze of Southampton Law School in England, points to a MI decision that found a county medical examiner could take a blood sample from a man killed in a vehicle crash. Accessing devices from private individuals to help with an investigation is still a hotly-contested topic, so if a person is dead, it becomes even more problematic.