Police try to unlock cellphone with dead man's finger

Cops Try Unlocking Phone With Dead Man's Finger

Police held the dead man's finger to the phone, but were unable to unlock it, the Tampa Bay Times reports.

While Armstrong told the Tampa Bay Times she felt "disrespected and violated" by the ghoulish activities, Lt. Randall Chaney of the Largo Police Department explained that the two officers didn't think a warrant was required because there is no expectation of privacy after death.

Legal experts have noted how the detectives ill-advised actions were legal, but questioned the appropriateness of their intrusive measures.

Linus Phillip had been killed March 23.


Phillip was killed a month ago by Largo, Fla. police after he tried to drive away from a police officer to avoid being searched after a traffic stop. According to the Tampa Bay Times, Phillip was shot while attempting to flee when an officer was about to search him.

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.

"While the deceased person doesn't have a vested interest in the remains of their body, the family sure does, so it really doesn't pass the smell test", says a professor at Stetson University College of Law.

An unlocked iPhone was found on his person - but in the hours after his death as police sought access to his phone, the iPhone went to sleep, and when it reopened, it required a passcode. 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.

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