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United States v. West

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

May 17, 2017

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

          ORDER DENYING DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO SUPPRESS EVIDENCE (ECF #18)

          MATTHEW F. LEITMAN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         In this criminal prosecution, Defendant Tyrone West is charged 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.) West has filed a motion to suppress (1) the firearm that police officers seized from him during a traffic stop and (2) statements he made following his arrest. (See ECF #18.) West argues that the Court must suppress the evidence against him because it is the “fruit” of an unlawful arrest and/or an unlawful patdown search. For the reasons stated below, the Court disagrees, and it therefore DENIES West's motion to suppress.

         I

         The Court held an evidentiary hearing on West's motion to suppress on April 11, 2017. Based on all of the evidence presented at the hearing (which included a video recording of the traffic stop in question made by the officers' in-car recording system), the Court makes the following factual findings:

1. On November 11, 2016, Detroit police officers Michael Carson and Eric Carter were on patrol in a marked police car in the City of Detroit, Michigan.
2. Officer Carson is a 17-year veteran of the Detroit Police Department and is currently assigned to the department's sixth precinct.
3. At approximately 5:02 p.m., Officers Carson and Carter observed a black Buick sedan (the “Vehicle”) fail to come to a complete stop at a stop sign near the intersection of Constance and Brace.
4. The driver of the Vehicle was Anthony Earl Harris. Defendant West was in the front passenger seat of the Vehicle.
5. Officers Carson and Carter stopped the Vehicle at 5:03 p.m.
6. Immediately after effecting the stop, Officer Carter approached the driver side of the Vehicle, and Officer Carson approached the passenger side of the Vehicle.
7. Upon reaching the Vehicle, Officer Carter asked Harris for his license and registration. Officer Carter then told Harris that he smelled “weed.” When Harris responded that he “didn't smoke, ” Officer Carter asked Harris whether his passenger (West) smoked or had “weed in the car.”
8. While Officer Carter was talking to Harris, Officer Carson knocked on the passenger side window and asked West to roll the window “all the way down.”
9. Officer Carson asked West for identification. West responded that he did not have identification with him.
10. Officer Carson then said to West (at 5:03:57 p.m.): “You just got stopped by police. You're supposed to have ID on you. Let me explain something about the law so you will understand. This is a state law. If you don't have ID on you, I'm supposed to pull you out of the car and put you in handcuffs. If I wanted to, I could take you to the precinct because you don't have Id. We'd run your fingerprints. It takes six hours for it to come back. So you're not under arrest. You are being detained because you're not carrying Id. So as of right now, I am detaining you. I'm not taking you to the station, but I don't know who I am dealing with. So step out of the vehicle, because you are 25 and you're not carrying any ID on you.”
11. At 5:04:20 p.m., as Officer Carson was still speaking to West, Officer Carson opened the passenger side door so that West could exit the Vehicle.
12. At 5:04:22 p.m., West began to exit the Vehicle. At that time, Officer Carson positioned himself between West and the open passenger side door. As West exited, Officer Carson placed his right hand on West's back and his left hand on West's chest/abdomen. Officer Carson placed his hands on West in this manner in order to direct West's movements as West exited the car.
13. When West completed his exit from the Vehicle, he was standing with the front of his body turned towards Officer Carson so that the two were roughly face-to-face. Officer Carson told West to “turn around” so that West would be facing the Vehicle rather than facing Officer Carson. West did not immediately turn around as directed.
14. At 5:04:25 p.m., Officer Carson told West to “listen to his instructions” and that West was “moving too much.” Officer Carson then instructed West to turn around for a second time.
15. During the time that Officer Carson was giving West the instructions described above (in ΒΆΒΆ 13-14), Officer Carson kept his right hand on West's back and his left hand on West's chest/abdomen. Officer Carson maintained these ...

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