4th Circuit & Idaho

Fourth Circuit: District Court erred when it denied motion to suppress where officers did not have reasonable suspicion for investigatory stop

Defendant entered a conditional plea to gun charges after his motion to suppress was denied. Defendant and another individual were walking down a sidewalk of a public housing complex when officers approached them, accused them of trespass, and requested that they lift their shirts to show they were unarmed. The Fourth Circuit reversed initially holding that defendant was “seized” one minute into the voluntary encounter when one officer threatened to take defendant to jail for trespass and suggested defendant should consent to a pat down, both officers were in uniform, the officers were speaking in authoritative tones, and kept repeating the request. The Court further held that reasonable suspicion for an investigatory stop was not supplied by 1) defendant’s criminal history where police alerts preceded the encounter by approximately eight to ten years, and to hold otherwise would allow any person with a criminal record to be subjected to an investigative stop at any time; 2) an informant’s tip that defendant sold drugs in the complex where the officer had not taken steps to corroborate tip, the officer did not witness any furtive gestures indicative of drug-related activity before the stop, and defendant was not attempting to enter, leave, or linger near the building; 3) the fact that defendant was walking with an individual who was barred from the complex where officers allowed the other individual to walk away from the encounter; 4) defendant’s refusal to fully lift his shirt where there was no requirement that individuals present in the complexes lift their shirts upon request to prove they were unarmed; or 5) the officer’s alleged viewing of an outline of a firearm when defendant partially lifted his shirt where the officer’s viewing of the outline was preceded by coercive events including seizure of defendant without reasonable suspicion and 15 minutes of requests that defendant lift his shirt. United States v Peters, CA 4, 02-24-23, WL 2194678.

Idaho: Trial Court erred when it denied motion to suppress evidence found after unlawful arrest

Following denial of his motion to suppress, defendant entered a conditional plea to drug charges. The Idaho Supreme Court reversed holding that although the officers had reasonable suspicion for an investigatory detention of defendant in a bank based on information from a teller about suspicious behavior, the officers use of a firearm and removal of all the contents of defendant’s pockets was unreasonable where the officers had no information that either defendant or his companion were armed, dangerous, or posed any risk of violence. This activity and the searching of defendant’s wallet transformed the detention into an arrest. A factual nexus existed between defendant's unlawful arrest and the evidence seized from defendant’s car warranting exclusion of that evidence where the police discovered the drugs in the car after the K-9 arrived, which was well after defendant had been unlawfully arrested and otherwise would have been free to leave. Idaho v Maahs, 03-07-2023, WL 2375797.