This bodycam footage was obtained from the Nevada Highway Patrol from a traffic stop on February 19, 2021 in Reno, Nevada.
Retired Marine Stephen Lara, 39-year-old father of two, drives once a month from his home in Lubbock ,Texas to see his children who live with their mother on the Nevada-California.
During his monthly trip in February, he was pulled over by NHP for supposedly following a tractor-trailer too closely. The officer then thanks Stephen for his careful driving and observance of the speed limit. Stephen cooperates with the officer and even volunteered that he was carrying a large amount of cash.
Following a number of robberies in his parents' neighborhood, Stephen kept his life savings - $86,900 - on him for safe keeping, (money he was saving so that he could move closer to his children). Initially the officer who pulled him over offered to let him go, until the was overruled by the NHP Sergeant Glenn Rigdon, who ordered the money be seized and "adopted" by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.
"Adoption" is a process where the federal law enforcement agencies can take over a seizure by state and local law enforcement. If the seizure is successful, the program allows up to 80% of those proceeds to be given back to the state and local law enforcement. Translation: State and local cops can take away your possessions purely because of "suspicion", give it to the federal government who will fight to keep it. If the government wins, it'll reward the cops who stole the property with up to 80% of the takings.
The federal government then has to prove that Stephen was guilty of a crime related to the cash, but they not only didn't do that, but they ignored the deadline to give it back, forcing Stephen to open a civil forfeiture case which he ultimately won on August 30th.
With roots of the civil forfeiture law dating back to the mid-1600s, it's becoming a growing point of concern in the U.S., with over $1.75 Billion being seized by the government in 2020 alone. In 2014, U.S. citizens had lost more private property
through civil forfeiture then burglary