Detective Pete Shockley, a Morristown Police Department narcotics investigator, did not create an “inherently coercive environment” that violated a local woman’s rights against an illegal search, a federal appeals has ruled.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit didn’t have to plow new ground in the case of April West.
In a ruling prior to West’s being sentenced to 108 months for methamphetamine possession, U.S. Magistrate Clifton Corker concluded West’s contention that Shockley berated her until she surrendered the drug was groundless.
Corker wrote West was “smoking, talking with (officers), joking with them, walking around freely, folding up some articles of clothing she had removed from the trunk, and looking in the car for a bottle of water.” Corker also noted that West initiated the conversation with Shockley during which she surrendered the drugs.
Hidden inside a body cavity, West, 37, was holding 1.2 grams of crystal meth, 19.2 grams of crack cocaine and 67 pills that included morphine, oxycodone and Valium, according to authorities.
“She argued Shockley ‘searched’ her person because she ‘never felt free to leave’ and ‘felt compelled to turn over the drugs,’ the appeals court opinion states. “But her argument relies entirely on her own testimony which the magistrate judge discredited.”
West, who is incarcerated at a minimum-security prison in Texas, will be eligible for release in March 2026, according to the Federal Bureau of Prisons.
West was arrested in 2016, four months after she was released from prison after flattening an 80-month sentence for selling oxycodone.