United States District Court, W.D. Oklahoma
TIMOTHY D. DeGIUSTI Chief United States District Judge.
the Court is Defendant Laquay Lee Jeffers' Motion to
Suppress [Doc. No. 15], seeking either the suppression of any
items seized during the April 4, 2018 stop and search, or in
the alternative, a hearing on the Motion. The government
responded [Doc. No. 18]. On October 17, 2019, the Court held
an evidentiary hearing regarding the motions. Defendant
appeared personally and through appointed counsel, David B.
Autry. The government appeared through Assistant United
States Attorney Ashley Altshuler. The Court heard testimony
from Sergeant Charles McMackin (“McMackin”) and
received government exhibits Nos. 1-4 . The parties presented
their arguments, generally adopting the positions presented
in their written briefs. Upon consideration of the evidence,
the case record, and the parties' arguments, the Court
rules as follows.
one-count Indictment, Defendant Laquay Lee Jeffers was
charged with violating 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1) [Doc. No.
1]. On April 4, 2018, McMackin, a Sergeant with the Oklahoma
City Police Department, saw a Ford Fusion travel on the white
lane line for roughly one-hundred feet. See Doc. No.
15 at 1; Doc. No. 18 at 2. McMackin engaged his emergency
lights and siren and followed the vehicle. Doc. No. 15 at 1.
driver of the Ford Fusion, later determined to be Defendant,
ignored the emergency lights and drove into a parking lot.
Doc. No. 18 at 2. The Ford Fusion circled a light pole
approximately three times. Id. Defendant then
continued through the apartment complex, traversing grassy
areas and sidewalks before finding himself boxed between two
point, McMackin exited his patrol car, approached the Ford
Fusion, and commanded Defendant to get on the ground and show
his hands. Id. Defendant moved from the driver's
door to the passenger's door. Id. As McMackin
closed his distance, Defendant attempted to move back to the
driver's side door. Id. McMackin reached through
the front passenger side window, which was halfway down, and
deployed his taser to Defendant's back. Id.
McMackin opened the front door commanding Defendant to get on
the ground, McMackin saw a handgun on the passenger seat near
Defendant. Id. at 3. A backup officer subsequently
seized the gun, once Defendant was in handcuffs. Id.
purpose of a suppression hearing is “to determine
preliminarily the admissibility of certain evidence allegedly
obtained in violation of defendant's rights under the
[Fourth Amendment].” United States v. Merritt,
695 F.2d 1263, 1269 (10th Cir. 1982). “The proper
inquiry is whether [the challenged action] violated the
Fourth Amendment rights of [the] criminal defendant making
the challenge.” United States v. Allen, 235
F.3d 482, 489 (10th Cir. 2000) (quoting United States v.
Erwin, 875 F.2d 268, 270 (10th Cir. 1989)).
proponent of a motion to suppress has the burden of adducing
facts at the suppression hearing indicating that his own
rights were violated by the challenged search.”
Rakas v. Illinois, 439 U.S. 128, 132 (1978);
United States v. Eckhart, 569 F.3d 1263, 1274 (10th
Cir. 2009) (quoting Allen, 235 F.3d at 489). The
burden is then on the government to prove by a preponderance
of the evidence that any warrantless search or seizure that
occurred was lawful. U.S. v. Roberts, 14 F.3d 502
(10th Cir 1993), cert denied, 514 U.S. 1043 (1995).
The controlling burden of proof at a suppression hearing is
proof by a preponderance of the evidence. United States
v. Matlock, 415 U.S. 164, 177 n.14 (1974); accord
United States v. Maurek, 131 F.Supp.3d 1258, 1261-62
(W.D. Okla. 2015) (DeGiusti, J.).
As Defendant did not stop once McMackin engaged his emergency
lights, he was not seized under the Fourth
argues that he did not commit an in-fact violation of Okla.
Stat. Ann. tit. 47, § 11-309 and therefore,
McMackin's stop could not be justified at its inception.
As such, the search of Defendant's car was unlawful. Doc.
No. 15 at 2.
a traffic stop is a seizure under the Fourth Amendment, it
must be justified at its inception-when the officer intrudes
on the motorist's liberty interest. United States v.
Martinez, 512 F.3d 1268, 1272 (10th Cir. 2008). A
traffic stop is justified at its inception “if the
officer has (1) probable cause to believe a traffic violation
has occurred; or, (2) a reasonable articulable suspicion that
‘this particular motorist violated any one of the
multitude of applicable traffic and ...