United States District Court, N.D. Oklahoma
OPINION AND ORDER
E. DOWDELL. CHIEF JUDGE
the Court is the defendant's Motion to Suppress (Doc.
14), to which the government responded (Doc. 15). The Court
conducted a hearing on the motion and heard the testimony of
one witness, Tulsa Police Officer Edward Trice, and received
in evidence the police reports (Exhibit 1) associated with
the defendant's arrest.
purpose of suppression proceedings is to “determine
preliminarily the admissibility of certain evidence allegedly
obtained in violation of defendant's rights under the
Fourth and Fifth Amendments.” See United States v.
Merritt, 695 F.2d 1263, 1269 (10th Cir. 1982). A motion
to suppress is governed by Rule 12. See Fed. R.
Crim. P. 12(b)(3)(C). Pursuant to Rule 12(d), “[w]hen
factual issues are involved in deciding a motion, the court
must state its essential findings on the record.” This
opinion shall serve as the Court's essential findings on
the defendant's suppression motion.
defendant is charged by Indictment (Doc. 2) with being a
felon in possession of a firearm, in violation of 18 U.S.C.
§§ 922(g)(1) and 924(a)(2). His arrest stemmed from
an investigatory stop by Tulsa Police officers on April 16,
2019. On that day, Tulsa Police Department (TPD) Officers
Edward Trice and Brett Sanders were assisting Tulsa
International Airport Corporal Dan Fritz in an investigation
of trash dumping and an abandoned vehicle on airport
property. Officer Trice is a TPD bomb dog handler assigned to
the Tulsa International Airport. The area where the officers
were located was one of several areas of airport property
where illegal dumping of household items, tires, and stolen
property had become a problem.
before noon on April 16, 2019, the officers saw a blue truck
with two occupants turn off of Port Road onto a drive leading
into a rural field on airport property, where the officers
were conducting their investigation into dumping. The
driveway was off of Port Road in a rural area and was
partially paved with asphalt, turning into a horseshoe-shaped
dirt road around a tree. The truck's bed was loaded with
items covered by a blue tarp, which extended above the
truck's bed, and Officer Trice believed that the tarp
appeared as if it may be covering trash.
Trice testified that he commented to the other two officers
that the occupants of the truck may be who had been dumping
at that location. (See also Exhibit 1 at 2 [Trice
reported that he commented that the occupants “may be
our illegal dumpers”]). Once the driver of the truck
saw the police officers, the driver quickly turned the truck
around and drove back to Port Road. Officer Trice got in his
truck and followed. The driver was driving fast enough that
he gained some distance ahead of Officer Trice's truck
and had already made it to the east of Highway 169. Trice
testified that it appeared that the driver was attempting to
get further ahead of the officers, who were a few car lengths
behind him in a construction zone. Ultimately, Trice caught
up to the vehicle and initiated a stop on the suspicion that
the occupants of the truck had illegally dumped and/or were
there to illegally dump on airport property.
stopping the vehicle and approaching the driver in the truck,
Officer Trice noticed boards, construction tools,
construction trash, papers, and tubes of stuff. Officer Trice
told the driver, Clinton Rose, that he was being stopped
because the airport had a problem with illegal dumping and
the way the truck's load was covered and the way Rose
pulled in and then immediately turned around upon seeing
officers appeared suspicious. Trice informed Rose that he
wanted to make sure that Rose was not dumping trash on
airport property. Rose informed Trice that he only had work
tools, he was not illegally dumping, and he had just made a
wrong turn. Rose's claim that he had made a wrong turn
did not appear to Officer Trice to be true given the specific
location and the fact that, before exiting Port Road onto the
driveway, Rose could have more safely and easily made a legal
U-turn from the left turn lane on Port Road rather than
having to cross the road and traffic again from the driveway
on the north, where the officers first saw him.
Trice requested Mr. Rose's driver's license. Rose
produced an Oklahoma driver's license, with an expiration
date of February 28, 2018. (See Exhibit 1). Officer
Trice noted that the license was expired, and Rose indicated
that the license had been suspended. Officer Trice returned
to his vehicle to run a records check on Mr. Rose and the
passenger of the truck. A records check revealed that Mr.
Rose had a master file with the TPD, he was an ex-convict,
his driver's license was suspended, and he had an
outstanding warrant from Wagoner County.
Officer Trice returned to the truck, he returned the license
to Mr. Rose. As Trice was handing the passenger's
identification back, he noticed the barrel of a gun under the
center armrest. Trice looked directly at the passenger and
asked the passenger whether the gun was his, because Trice
knew that Mr. Rose was an ex-con. The passenger said it was
not his gun. Mr. Rose then stated that it was Rose's gun.
Trice told Rose that he is a convicted felon and was not
supposed to have a firearm. Mr. Rose was then placed under
arrest and was subsequently charged by Indictment in this
case for being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm.
Only approximately 10 minutes elapsed from the time Trice
stopped Mr. Rose's vehicle to the time he placed Mr. Rose
Rose moves to suppress “all evidence and statements
related to the stop and search of Mr. Rose's vehicle, the
gun located therein, and statements made.” (Doc. 14).
He argues that “[t]here was no probable cause or
reasonable suspicion to stop, detain, question or search Mr.
Rose's vehicle” and “[t]here was no
indication of any wrongdoing by Mr. Rose, or that he had
engaged, or attempted to engage, in the misdemeanor offense
of illegal dumping. . . .” (Id. at 1).