United States District Court, W.D. Oklahoma
J. CAUTHRON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
before the Court is Defendant's Motion to Suppress and
the Government's Response thereto. (See Dkt.
Nos. 16, 17.)
Court held an evidentiary hearing on October 24, 2019, which
established the following facts:
February 13, 2019, just before 9 a.m., Woodward Police
Officer Christopher Gregory observed a white van begin
driving down the street and specifically recognized the
driver, Tanya Baker, from his previous interactions with her.
From these interactions-the most recent of which occurred
between Dec. 14, 2018, and Jan. 11, 2019-Officer Gregory
suspected that Baker was driving with a suspended license and
initiated a traffic stop based on this. Before pulling
the van over, Officer Gregory also recognized Defendant as
one of the passengers. Upon this recognition, Officer Gregory
recalled that Defendant was a felon, and that the Woodward
Police had recently received a tip that Defendant was in
possession of a firearm.
Officer Gregory initiated a traffic stop of the van. Once the
van pulled over, Officer Gregory instructed Baker out of the
vehicle and arrested her for driving with a suspended
license. During this time, Officer Gregory noticed that the
remaining occupants in the van were moving around a lot, so
he instructed Officer Emmett Duncan-who had recently appeared
on the scene-to have Defendant exit the vehicle. As Defendant
did so, Officer Duncan approached Defendant, who, in Officer
Duncan's view, was acting nervous and kept attempting to
reach into his own pockets. He was also resisting Officer
Duncan's commands to put his hands behind his back.
Officer Duncan also noticed that Defendant was wearing a gun
holster with bullet loops around his neck. During this time,
Defendant confessed to having a gun on his person. And at
some point thereafter, Officer Duncan, now joined by Sergeant
Adam Martin, ultimately handcuffed Defendant and extracted a
loaded gun from his person.
now stands charged by a one-count indictment of being a Felon
in Possession of a Firearm. His trial is currently set to
begin in November. He now moves the Court to suppress the gun
recovered from his person from being presented as evidence
against him. In his view, the Woodward Police violated his
Fourth Amendment rights in obtaining the evidence and the
Government should therefore be prohibited from using it. The
Government denies these charges.
well established that the protections of the Fourth Amendment
“extend to brief investigatory stops of persons or
vehicles that fall short of traditional arrest.”
United States v. Williams, 403 F.3d 1203, 1206 (10th
Cir. 2005). Routine traffic stops are analyzed under the
two-part test announced by the United States Supreme Court in
Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1, 19-20 (1968).
Id. First, the Court must determine whether the stop
was “justified at its inception.” Id.
Second, the Court must determine whether the officers'
conduct during the traffic stop was reasonably related in
scope and duration to the circumstances giving rise to the
initial traffic stop. Id.
Terry's First Prong-Justified at Inception.
“[A] traffic stop is valid under the Fourth Amendment
if the stop is based on an observed traffic violation or if
the police officer has reasonable articulable suspicion that
a traffic or equipment violation has occurred or is
occurring.” United States v. Botero- Ospina,
71 F.3d 783, 787 (10th Cir. 1995). That the officer may have
had some other subjective motivation for conducting the stop
is irrelevant. United States v. Hunnicutt, 135 F.3d
1345, 1348 (10th Cir. 1998).
Terry's Second Prong-Reasonable Duration.
traffic stop must be of limited duration; it must “last
no longer than is necessary to effectuate the purpose of the
stop.” Florida v. Royer, 460 U.S. 491, 500
(1983). Nevertheless, a traffic stop may be extended beyond
the reasonable time necessary to effectuate the purpose of
the stop if the trooper has an objectively reasonable and
articulable suspicion that illegal ...