United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
ORDER DENYING MOTION TO SUPPRESS EVIDENCE
TERRENCE G. BERG UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Cooper is charged with two counts of felon in possession of a
firearm in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922. These charges
stem from a search of two properties associated with Mr.
Cooper, one of which is his personal residence (the
“Nottingham House”), and the other is a house he
owns and from which he allegedly conducted sales of crack
cocaine (the “Berkshire House”). Mr. Cooper
contends that the search of the Nottingham House was
unconstitutional because the affidavit supplied in
application of the search warrant “did not provide
probable cause that the home would contain evidence of a
crime.” ECF No. 16, PageID.42 (citing U.S. Const.
amend. IV). Accordingly, Mr. Cooper seeks to suppress the
evidence seized from the Nottingham House as “fruits of
an unlawful search.” ECF No. 16, PageID.43 (citing
Wong Sun v. United States, 371 U.S. 471, 484
(1963)). Mr. Cooper does not contest the search of the
Cooper notes in his motion, nearly all of the facts recounted
in the affidavit supporting the warrant pertain to the
Berkshire House. In the section titled “Probable Cause,
” Special Agent Dent provides 15 paragraphs of
information in support of her application for the search
warrants. ECF No. 16-2, PageID.63-73. Of those 15 paragraphs,
only three deal with the Nottingham House. ECF No. 16-2,
PageID.72-73. The other 12 paragraphs focus on activities at
the Berkshire House, providing ample probable cause to
support a search warrant for that location. For this reason,
Mr. Cooper does not challenge the warrant for the Berkshire
House. Rather, he contends that the three paragraphs about
Nottingham House are insufficient to establish probable cause
to search his personal residence.
Paragraph 18, SA Dent says that a confidential informant
(“DPD-1”) “understands” that Mr.
Cooper uses the Nottingham House to “cook”
narcotics. ECF No. 16-2, PageID.72. DPD-1 says that this
information is based on conversations with Cooper, but DPD-1
did not say that he or she personally witnessed Mr. Cooper or
anyone else cooking narcotics in the Nottingham House. ECF
No. 16-2, PageID.72.
Paragraph 19, SA Dent says that at some time in November
2018, DPD-1 “personally observed a digital scale and a
Pyrex jar (commonly used to cook crack cocaine) with white
cloudy residue located in the kitchen [, as well as] multiple
large chunks of crack cocaine on the kitchen counter next to
the digital scale and Pyrex jar” at the Nottingham
House. ECF No. 16-2, PageID.72. SA Dent says that DPD-1
“observed COOPER place large chunks of crack cocaine
inside of a plastic bag inside” the Nottingham House.
ECF No. 16-2, PageID.72.
Paragraph 20, SA Dent states that “agents conducted
surveillance of [Nottingham House].” ECF No. 16-2,
PageID.72. During that surveillance, according to SA Dent, an
agent “observed the dark gray Ford F-150 backed into
the driveway[, ]” and SA Dent says that the vehicle was
similar to one seen at the Berkshire House previously being
driven by the Defendant. ECF No. 16-2, PageID.72-73.
homes were searched on December 19, 2018. ECF No. 18,
PageID.88. A return is attached as an exhibit to Mr.
Cooper's motion, showing numerous items that were
apparently seized during the searches. ECF No. 16-2,
PageID.84-85. Those items include numerous firearms and
ammunition, multiple cell phones, cash, a small quantity of
what may be marijuana, six unidentified pills, two
photographs of Mr. Cooper, miscellaneous proofs of residence
for Mr. Cooper, and $1, 100.00 in cash. ECF No. 16-2,
Cooper argues that the information in the affidavit relating
to the Nottingham House is deficient. First, he argues that
the information about the Nottingham House comes from an
uncorroborated tip provided by an unnamed informant. ECF No.
16, PageID.47-52. Next, he argues that the information
provided by the informant was stale at the time the affidavit
was made, failing to provide probable cause of a
“presently existing condition” at the Nottingham
House. ECF No. 16, PageID.52- 54. Lastly, Mr. Cooper argues
that the evidence seized from the Nottingham House
“must be suppressed because the agents did not rely
upon the warrant in good faith.” ECF No. 16,
PageID.54-55. He claims that “the warrant affidavit so
lacked the requisite indicia of probable cause that it was
‘entirely unreasonable' for an official to rely on
it.” ECF No. 16, PageID.55.
Government opposes this motion, arguing that “the facts
that established that Cooper was a member of a continual and
ongoing drug trafficking operation [make it] reasonable to
conclude that he keeps evidence of his illegal scheme in his
residence.” ECF No. 18, PageID.95. The Government
responds that “‘facts showing that the residence
has been used in drug trafficking' are not required to
find probable cause” when a defendant is involved in a
“continual and ongoing drug trafficking
operation.” ECF No. 18, PageID.95 (citing United
States v. McCoy, 905 F.3d 409, 417-18 (6th Cir. 2018);
and United States v. Brown, 828 F.3d 375, 383 &
n.2 (6th Cir. 2016)) (quotation marks omitted).
Government notes that the affidavit relied on information
from DPD-1 and also from information gained during a
traffic-stop on December 12, 2018. ECF No. 18, PageID.96. In
that stop-which appears to be unrelated to the investigation
of Mr. Cooper-a woman passenger in the car informed police
that she purchased drugs from the Berkshire House, that the
Berkshire House is owned by “O” (an alias for Mr.
Cooper), and that “O” carried a gun on his
person. ECF No. 18, PageID.96; ECF No. 16-2, PageID.69-70.
She also provided a phone number for “O” to
police. ECF No. 18, PageID.96; ECF No. 16-2, PageID.70. This
information corroborated the tip from DPD-1, who also said
that Mr. Cooper carried a gun, and who provided the same
phone number for Mr. Cooper. Compare ECF No. 16-2,
PageID.63 with ECF No. 16-2, PageID.69-70. The
Government admitted at the hearing that no one had verified
whether this number actually belonged to Mr. Cooper, but that
does not change the fact that two informants, independent of
each other, supplied the same information when they were
identifying Mr. Cooper.
Government opposes Mr. Cooper's characterization of DPD-1
as an unreliable source, saying instead that DPD-1 had worked
with the police before and had proven to be reliable. ECF No.
16, PageID.98. The Government also claims that because
elements of DPD-1's tip were ...