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Florida detectives attempted to use a dead suspect’s fingerprint to unlock his phone

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The police say that their actions were legal


A pair of Florida police detectives attempted to use a dead suspect’s finger to unlock his phone after he was killed by police officers last month, reports the Tampa Bay Times (via Gizmodo).

Linus F. Phillip was killed at the end of March by officers Matthew Steiner and Prentice Ables after they pulled him over due to his car’s tinted windows, according to the Tampa Bay Times. He was killed when the two officers tried to arrest him after smelling marijuana in the car, and he attempted to drive away while one officer was caught halfway out of the vehicle. The officer fired his gun at the Phillip, who crashed and was later pronounced dead.

Shortly after Phillip’s death, Largos detectives went to the Sylvan Abbey Funeral Home in Clearwater, Florida, where the body was being held. They attempted and failed to unlock his phone in the course of a separate drug investigation involving Phillip.

Victoria Armstrong, Phillip’s fiancé told the Times that she “felt so disrespected and violated,” but Largo police spokesman Lt. Randall Chaney says that the detectives didn’t need a search warrant, an assessment backed up by several legal experts, who said that it was “ghoulish,” but that constitutional protections against searches don’t apply to the deceased.

Update, April 22nd, 6:40PM ET: A prior headline identified the detectives as being from Miami. It has been corrected.