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United States v. Boyd

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

May 5, 2017




         Defendant Calvin Lavelle Boyd currently is charged in this case with felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1). Presently before the Court is his Motion to Suppress, filed March 10, 2017. Defendant seeks to suppress ammunition and three weapons seized from the automobile he was driving when stopped by police on January 18, 2017, in Swartz Creek, Michigan. The Government filed a brief in opposition to the motion on March 31, 2017.

         I. Factual Background

         At approximately 1:00 a.m. on January 18, 2017, Defendant was driving a GMC Yukon in Swartz Creek, Michigan. The Yukon, which Defendant claims belongs to a friend, has dark tinted windows on the driver's window. As it generally is illegal to operate a motor vehicle in Michigan with such a tinted window, Swartz Creek Police Officer Nicholas Paul began following the Yukon in his patrol car. As Officer Paul pulled behind the Yukon, the driver slowed down, at which time Officer Paul observed that the brake light on the driver's side was burned out. Officer Paul then conducted a traffic stop of the Yukon. Before exiting his patrol car, Officer Paul ran the Yukon's license plate and determined the vehicle was registered to Tomesha Canady.

         Officer Paul then approached the driver's window of the vehicle, at which time Defendant offered his driver's license and proof of insurance. Officer Paul told Defendant he stopped the Yukon because of the dark window tint and the burned out brake light. Officer Paul returned to his patrol car to run Defendant's license through the Law Enforcement Information Network (“LEIN”).

         Around this time, another Swartz Creek Police Officer, Greg RaCosta, arrived at the scene. When Defendant began waving paperwork outside the driver's window, Officer RaCosta approached Defendant and began talking with him. The paperwork Defendant offered was a doctor's note, stating that he had a sun allergy and needed tinted windows to operate a vehicle safely.

         During their conversation, Defendant told Officer RaCosta that he did not have a job and never had one. Officer RaCosta claimed that as they spoke, Defendant repeatedly turned around to look in the back seat of the Yukon and reached his hand toward the back. Officer RaCosta also claimed to smell marijuana coming from within the Yukon.

         In the meantime, Officer Paul finished running Defendant's license in LIEN, and returned to the Yukon. Officer Paul also noticed that Defendant kept turning away from the officers and reaching into the back seat of the vehicle. Officer Paul also observed that Defendant appeared nervous. For these reasons, the officers asked Defendant to exit the vehicle for their safety.

         After Defendant exited the Yukon, Officer RaCosta patted him down for weapons and found a large wad of cash in Defendant's pants pocket. Defendant indicated that he did not know how much money he had, but a later count revealed that it was $4, 557.00. The officers then asked Defendant for consent to search the vehicle, which he refused.

         At that point, Officer Paul retrieved his K-9 partner, Roscoe, from the back of his patrol car. Defendant was placed in the back seat of one of the patrol cars while Officer Paul walked Roscoe around the Yukon to smell for drugs. Roscoe alerted, indicating that he detected drugs, and jumped into the open driver's door of the Yukon, alerting specifically to the back of the driver's seat. There, in the seat pouch, Officer Paul found a digital scale with suspected marijuana residue.

         While inside the Yukon, Roscoe stepped on a large black jacket on the backseat floor, which shifted the jacket and exposed a pistol behind the front passenger's seat. When Roscoe exited the vehicle, he further displaced the jacket, exposing a second, loaded handgun behind the driver's seat. Defendant yelled out that the guns were registered. Officer RaCosta asked Defendant if he had a concealed permit license, to which Defendant answered “no.” Officer RaCosta then handcuffed Defendant and placed him under arrest and in the back seat of his patrol car.

         Officer Paul continued to search the Yukon, uncovering an additional firearm and ammunition. He also found a second digital scale, four cellular telephones, and a suspected marijuana roach.

         II. Parties' Arguments

         Defendant seeks suppression of the ammunition and firearms recovered from the Yukon, contending that the stop of the vehicle was illegal because the driver's window, while tinted, was lawful based on the medical authorization Defendant showed the officers. Defendant also denies that the vehicle smelled of ...

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