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United States v. Watson

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

August 9, 2019

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
MICHAEL LASHANE WATSON, Defendant.

          ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO SUPPRESS TANGIBLE EVIDENCE AND STATEMENTS

          PAUL D. BORMAN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         I. INTRODUCTION

         This is a criminal case. Defendant Michael Lashane Watson is charged in a single count indictment with being a felon in possession of a firearm, 18 U.S.C. §922(g)(1), onApril8, 2019.

         Before the Court is Defendant's Motion to Suppress Tangible Evidence and Statements (ECF #18). The Court held an evidentiary hearing on Defendant's Motion to Suppress on July 23, 2019. Police videos were shown at the hearing. The two Detroit Police Officers involved in this seizure, Yuseph Elzein and Justin Malek testified at the hearing.

         After reviewing the record, in particular the videos provided by the Government which captured the encounter, the Court concludes that the police officers' conduct violated Defendant's constitutional rights. Accordingly, the motion to suppress the tangible evidence seized and Defendant's statements made to law enforcement officers.

         Based on a video provided by the Government that was shown at the hearing, the Court learned that on April 8, 2019, Defendant Michael Lashane Watson and his friend were approached by Detroit Police Officers on a residential street. Defendant and his friend were standing next to Defendant's car when the officers drove up. Defendant was wearing an untucked shirt. The officers exited their car, walked up to the Defendant, and then one officer said to Defendant: "Got ID on you?" Defendant said "Yes." An officer then reached over, pulled up Defendant Watson's untucked shirt and seized a heretofore invisible pistol from Watson's waistband. Only thereafter, did an officer ask Defendant Watson "Got a CPL?"

         At the conclusion of the evidentiary hearing, the Court ordered the parties to submit a supplemental brief concerning the Detroit City Code provision at issue: §38-1-1-3:

         Loitering - Generally

(a) It shall be unlawful for any person to liter on any street, sidewalks, overpass or public place. For the purpose of this section, loitering is defined as the act of standing or idling in or about any street, sidewalk, overpass or public place so as to hinder or impede or tend to hinder or impede the passage of pedestrians or vehicles.
(b) A person who violates this section shall be liable for a civil infraction....

         In the instant case, as the videos show, the defendant and another man were talking to each other standing next to Defendant's parked car on a two lane street. The video established the street had no other vehicular traffic, or any sidewalk pedestrian traffic. Indeed, had the two men been talking on the sidewalk, they could have been cited under the Loitering Provision for standing and talking on a sidewalk even though no other individuals were walking or standing on the sidewalk.

         Defendant and his friend did not hinder or impede or tend to hinder or impede the passage of any vehicles. Indeed, there were no moving vehicles on the street.

         The Officers Elzein and Malek pulled up in their car alongside Defendant's car, walked over, and then pulled up Defendant's shirt revealing a pistol, and seized the pistol. The officers testified that they saw a bulge under the left side of his untucked shirt.

         Michigan Compiled Laws §750.227 states that a person shall not carry concealed pistol ...


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