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United States v. Edwards

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

August 2, 2019

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
CHARLES EDWARDS, Defendant.

          AMENDED [1] OPINION AND ORDER DENYING DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO SUPPRESS (ECF #20)

          MATTHEW F. LEITMAN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         On December 19, 2018, a federal grand jury charged Defendant Charles Edwards with being a felon in possession of a firearm, possession with intent to distribute heroin, and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime. (See Indictment, ECF #1.) The charges were based, in large part, upon evidence seized from Edwards' vehicle. Edwards has now filed a motion to suppress that evidence. (See Mot. to Suppress, ECF #20.) The Court held an evidentiary hearing on the motion on July 23, 2019. For the reasons explained below, the motion is DENIED.

         Findings of Fact

         Based upon the testimony given and other evidence presented at the evidentiary hearing, the Court makes the following findings of fact:

         1. On June 10, 2017, John Harwell and Noah Pillsbury were working as patrol officers for the City of Flint Police Department.

         2. At that time, the City of Flint Police Department had written policies and procedures concerning impounding vehicles and conducting inventory searches of vehicles. Those policies and procedures were set forth in the Flint Police Manual, a portion of which was admitted into evidence as Government's Exhibit 2 at the evidentiary hearing.

         3. As relevant to the issues presented in Edwards' motion, Section 03-4/020.3-1 of the Flint Police Manual (“Section 020.3-1”) provided as follows on June 10, 2017:

IMPOUNDMENT FOR SAFEKEEPING
Any time a vehicle is rendered unattended on public or private property not belonging to the vehicle owner or user as a result of Flint police action, and custody of the vehicle is not turned over by the person in charge of the vehicle to another who is legally eligible to take charge, the vehicle shall be impounded for safekeeping. An alternative to impoundment may be arranged if the unattended vehicle is protected form theft or damage while in the custody of the Flint Police Department. An alternative, to be acceptable, must transfer custody of the vehicle from the Department to the vehicle owner or his agent.

         4. In addition, Section 03-4/020.4-1 of the Flint Police Manual (“Section 020.4-1”) required officers impounding a vehicle to complete a “Vehicle Tie-Up Slip” and to include on that slip “an inventory of the contents of the car.” 5. While Officers Harwell and Pillsbury were on routine patrol on June 10, 2017, they came across a vehicle accident scene. The accident involved a minivan driven by Edwards and a second vehicle driven by another individual.

         6. Officers Harwell and Pillsbury stopped at the accident scene and spoke to the two drivers. The officers asked the drivers to provide their licenses, vehicle registrations, and proofs of insurance.

         7. Edwards did not have a physical driver's license with him, so he gave the officers his name and birthdate.

         8. The officers entered Edwards' information into the Law Enforcement Information Network system and discovered that Edwards was the subject of an outstanding arrest warrant issued by a Michigan state court.

         9. Based upon the outstanding warrant, the officers arrested Edwards. Upon arresting Edwards, the officers handcuffed him and ...


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