United States District Court, W.D. Oklahoma
MILES-LAGRANGE, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
the Court is defendant's Motion to Suppress Evidence
Obtained as a Result of an Illegal Search and Seizure, filed
December 19, 2017. On December 28, 2017, the government filed
its response. On January 26, 2018, the Court conducted an
evidentiary hearing on defendant's motion to suppress.
Tuesday, October 17, 2017, at approximately 9:20 p.m.,
Officer Hayden Young with the Anadarko Police Department was
dispatched following a 911 call from Edward Dalton. Mr.
Dalton was a citizen who had been parked at the Valero gas
station, located in the 500 block of East Central in
Anadarko. Mr. Dalton reported that two men had been arguing
in the parking lot at the Valero and that one of the men had
a gun. Upon further questioning by the 911 dispatcher, Mr.
Dalton stated that the man did not show the gun to anyone but
that the gun was in his back pocket. Mr. Dalton further
reported that the man with the gun went into the Valero, made
a purchase, got in a white Chevy Impala with Apache Tribal
tag number ATC4104, and was heading westbound on Central.
Officer Young was on his way to the Valero, he saw a white
Chevy Impala traveling west on Central. Officer Young turned
his car around, got behind the vehicle, and confirmed the
license tag on the vehicle was the same as that reported in
the 911 call. While traveling behind the Chevy Impala,
Officer Young did not observe any traffic violations. Officer
Young activated both his lights and sirens, and the Chevy
Impala stopped at 5th Street and West Virginia.
Officer Young testified that he stopped the vehicle solely
based on what the dispatcher had told him about the 911 call.
Officer Young further testified that he did not know who was
driving the Chevy Impala at the time he stopped it.
Young instructed the driver to turn the vehicle off, remove
the keys, drop them on the ground outside the vehicle, and
keep both hands outside the driver's side window.
Defendant was the driver of the vehicle, and there were no
passengers. Defendant complied with Officer Young's
instructions. Officer Young then instructed defendant to get
out of the vehicle, which he did. Officer Young patted
defendant down for weapons and did not locate a firearm on
his person. After patting down defendant, Officer Young asked
defendant what happened at the Valero. Defendant told Officer
Young there was no altercation at the Valero and there was no
gun. During the stop, Officer Young observed defendant had
red, watery eyes, slurred speech, was unsteady on his feet,
and had an odor commonly associated with the consumption of
alcohol on his breath and person.
Young had defendant stand at the rear of the vehicle with two
other officers who had arrived on the scene while he
conducted a search of the area within reach of the driver.
While searching the vehicle, Officer Young located a loaded
Hi-Point Model C-9 9 mm handgun, a magazine that fit the gun,
and seven 9mm rounds near the rear of the front passenger
seat. Officer Young placed defendant under
arrest for driving under the influence and transported him to
the Anadarko Municipal Jail, where defendant was charged with
driving under the influence of alcohol, transporting a loaded
firearm, and possession of a firearm after a felony
detention of individuals during the stop of an automobile by
the police, even if only for a brief period and for a limited
purpose, constitutes a ‘seizure' of
‘persons' within the meaning of [the Fourth
Amendment].” Whren v. United States, 517 U.S.
806, 809-10 (1996).
In Terry v. Ohio, the Supreme Court established that
a law enforcement officer may in appropriate circumstances
and in an appropriate manner approach a person for purposes
of investigating possibly criminal behavior even though there
is no probable cause to arrest. An investigatory detention is
justified at its inception if the specific and articulable
facts and rational inferences drawn from those facts give
rise to a reasonable suspicion a person has or is committing
a crime. Although [r]easonable suspicion requires the officer
to act on something more than an inchoate and
unparticularized suspicion or hunch, the level of suspicion
required for reasonable suspicion is considerably less than
proof by a preponderance of the evidence or that required for
In determining whether reasonable suspicion exists, we look
to the “totality of the circumstances, ” rather
than assessing each factor or piece of evidence in isolation.
Additionally, we need not rule out the possibility of
innocent conduct, and reasonable suspicion may exist even if
it is more likely than not that the individual is not
involved in any illegality. All reasonable suspicion requires
is some minimal level of objective justification.
United States v. McHugh, 639 F.3d 1250, 1255-56
(10th Cir. 2011) (internal quotations and citations omitted).
heard the evidence presented at the hearing, and considering
the totality of the circumstances, the Court finds that the
stop of defendant's vehicle by Officer Young was not
supported by reasonable suspicion that defendant had or was
committing a crime. Officer Young testified that the only
reason he stopped defendant's vehicle was the information
he had been provided regarding the 911 call. The information
provided by Mr. Dalton in his 911 call, however, does not
indicate in any way that any crime had been committed by
defendant at the Valero. It is not a crime to argue with someone
in a parking lot, and in Oklahoma, it is not a crime to carry
a gun in your back pocket. See Oklahoma Self-Defense Act,
Okla. Stat. tit. 21, § 1290.1, et seq.
Accordingly, the Court finds that the stop of defendant's
vehicle by Officer Young violated the Fourth Amendment. As
the search of defendant's vehicle flowed from the illegal
stop of defendant's vehicle, the Court finds that all
items found during the search should be suppressed.