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United States v. West

United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division

March 23, 2017

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
TYRONE WEST, Defendant.

          ORDER DENYING DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO COMPEL DISCLOSURE OF THE ACTIVITY LOGS OF OFFICERS ERIC CARTER AND MICHAEL CARSON (ECF #28)

          MATTHEW F. LEITMAN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         In this criminal prosecution, the Government has charged Defendant Tyrone West (“West”) with one count of being a felon in possession of a firearm in violation of 18 U.S.C. 922(g)(1). (See Indictment, ECF #11.) On February 23, 2017, West filed a Motion to Compel Disclosure of Activity Logs of Officers Eric Carter and Michael Carson (the “Motion to Compel”). (See ECF # 28.) For the reasons explained below, the Court DENIES the motion.

         I

         A

         On November 11, 2016, City of Detroit police officers Eric Carter (“Officer Carter”) and Michael Carson (“Officer Carson”) stopped a vehicle in which West was riding as a passenger. The in-car video recording system in the officers' patrol car was operating at the time of the stop, and the officers' interaction with West and the driver is captured on video. The video reveals, among other things, that Officer Carter approached the driver's side of the vehicle and announced that he smelled marijuana; that Officer Carson approached the passenger side of the vehicle and ordered West out of the vehicle; that upon exiting the vehicle West made a movement with his hand that Officer Carson appears to have interpreted as an effort to grab a weapon; that Officer Carson summoned Officer Carter to assist in dealing with West; and that the officers subdued West.

         A search of West revealed a firearm that appears to have been tucked in his waistband. But the officers did not find marijuana or evidence of marijuana use in the vehicle. And a drug test of West conducted two weeks after the stop did not reveal the presence of THC - a compound found in marijuana. Moreover, West insists that there was no odor of marijuana emanating from the vehicle.

         West was not permitted to possess a firearm because he had previously been convicted of a felony. A grand jury thereafter indicted West on a single count of being a felon in possession of a firearm in violation of 18 U.S.C. 922(g)(1). (See Indictment, ECF #11.)

         B

         West has filed two motions. In the first motion (on which the Court will hold a hearing early next month), West asks the Court to suppress the firearm seized from him (the “Motion to Suppress”). (See ECF #18.) In the Motion to Suppress, West contends that “[a]t the time [he] was ordered to get out of the car …. [t]here was no reasonable articulable suspicion that [he] was committing a crime.” (Id. at 2-3, Pg. ID 42-43.) West insists that the Court should therefore suppress “all evidence seized from the stop of the vehicle.” (Id. at 1, Pg. ID 41.)

         In the Motion to Compel (now before the Court for decision), West seeks disclosure of activity logs of officers Carter and Carson for the sixty days preceding the date that they stopped West. (See ECF #28.) West contends that the activity logs identify the stops made by the officers during their shifts and indicate whether the officers claimed to have detected an odor of marijuana during those stops.

         West asserts that the activity logs are relevant and material for impeachment purposes in connection with the Motion to Suppress. West says he has reason to believe that there is a “disturbing pattern” through which Detroit Police Department (“DPD”) officers falsely or erroneously claim to smell marijuana in order to justify searches and seizures. (Id. at 5, Pg. ID 121.) To West, “[t]his troubling pattern suggests (1) that DPD officers are [falsely] claiming to smell marijuana to justify searches; (2) DPD officers do not know what marijuana smells like; or (3) cars may smell like marijuana but not actually have any traces of the substance.” (Id.) West wants to review the activity logs for Officers Carter and Carson to determine whether they reflect this “troubling pattern, ” and, if they do, West wants to use the logs to undercut Officer Carter's claim (and any claim by Officer Carson) that he smelled marijuana coming from the car in which West was riding.

         II

         West argues that he is entitled to an order compelling production of the activity logs under three sources of law: (1) Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 16(a)(1)(E); (2) the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment, as construed in Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83 (1963) and Giglio v. United States, 405 U.S. 150 (1972); and (3) this Court's inherent “broad ...


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