United States District Court, D. Nevada
R. HICKS UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
the court is defendant Ricky Carter Jr.'s motion to
suppress. ECF No. 23. The United States filed a response (ECF
No. 24), to which Carter replied (ECF No. 25). The court
finds that probable cause supported the search warrant for
the four cellphones found in Carter's car during his
arrest. Moreover, even if the facts that Carter asserts are
missing from the affidavit are considered reckless or
intentional omissions, he has not established that they were
material to the probable-cause determination. The court will
therefore deny the motion.
is charged by indictment with one count of felon in
possession of a firearm under j 18 U.S.C. §§
922(g)(1), 924(a)(2). ECF No. 1. Reno Police Department
("RPD") officers discovered the firearm after
initiating a traffic stop of Carter's vehicle on November
30, 2016. ECF No. 23 at 2. The events leading up to the
traffic stop, which also underlie the search warrant at
issue, began two months earlier.
October 1, RPD officers responded to a shooting at a bar in
Reno, Nevada. ECF No. 24 at 1-2. After the officers arrived
on scene, they discovered the victim lying in the parking lot
with gunshot wounds. Surveillance video from a restaurant
next door revealed an individual later identified as Andre
Wagner running with a handgun in one hand and an item
appearing to be an extended magazine in the other. Wagner was
seen running down an alley towards the parking lot where the
victim was later found and firing the gun in that direction.
video also revealed the presence of Dartanyan Perkins, who,
along with Wagner and Carter, is a member of the Crips gang.
Id. at 2. Vehicles belonging to Wagner and Carter
were seen on video fleeing from the area, but it does not
appear that the video ever revealed Carter's presence at
the shooting. However, the police eventually learned that
Carter and Perkins were at a local casino several hours
before the shooting and had argued with the victim and his
cousin, who are both members of the rival Bloods gang. Based
on this incident and the fact that Carter's vehicle was
at the crime scene, officers assigned to the Regional Gang
Unit began searching for Carter in order to question him.
November 10, 2016, Wagner was arrested for the shooting. ECF
No. 23-1 at 2. Over the next few days, he made several
recorded phone calls from the detention center to the same
phone number, which the police learned belongs to his
girlfriend. During one of these calls, Wagner dialed his
girlfriend's number but spoke to Carter, who was
presumably with Wagner's girlfriend or had access to her
phone. Wagner instructed Carter to tell Perkins, who was also
caught on video at the crime scene, to flee. ECF No. 23 at 4;
ECF No. 23-2 at 3. During another call to his girlfriend,
Wagner instructed her to remain in contact with Carter. ECF
No. 23-2 at 3.
weeks later, on November 30, 2016, officers assigned to the
Regional Gang Unit coincidently pulled alongside Carter's
vehicle in traffic. ECF No. 24 at 2. Due to their
investigation of the October 1 shooting, the officers
recognized Carter as the driver and recalled that his license
was indefinitely suspended. The officers therefore decided to
initiate a traffic stop.
Carter's vehicle had come to a stop, the front and rear
passenger doors opened and two men began fleeing.
Id. at 3. Carter, however, remained in the vehicle.
With at least some of the passenger doors still open, the
officers were able to see a black semi-automatic handgun with
an extended magazine near the center console. The gun
appeared to match the weapon seen from the video of the
that Carter was a convicted felon, the officers arrested
Carter and searched him and his vehicle. Id. In
turn, they discovered one cellphone on his person and three
cellphones inside the vehicle within Carter's reach.
January 12, 2017, Detective Edward Wilson of the Sparks
Police Department and Regional Gang Unit applied for a
warrant to search all electronically-stored files from the
four cellphones found during Carter's arrest.
Id. In his affidavit, Detective Wilson attested that
he believed that evidence related to the October 1 shooting
would be found on at least some of these phones. ECF No. 23-2
support of this assertion, Detective Wilson cited the
aforementioned calls that Wagner placed from detention.
Detective Wilson attested that, "[d]ue to the amount of
communication between Wagner and Carter, " he believed
that an examination of the cellphones could corroborate
certain elements of the shooting investigation. ECF No. 23-2
at 5. At no point, however, did he explicitly state that none
of the calls that Wagner placed from detention were to any of
the four cellphones.
Wilson did cite the fact that both men were Crips gang
members and that "[it] is common for people involved in
criminal activity to converse with others with the use of
cellular phones by calls, text (SMS) messages, and emails
regarding their criminal activity." Id. at 4-5.
He also briefly noted an incident in which "a
confidential informant heard the account of the crime first
hand from Wagner, Perkins and their associates all while at
Ricky Carter's house." Id. at 4.
January 12, 2017, a Reno magistrate issued a search warrant
for the four cellphones. During the resulting search,
Detective Wilson located text messages between Carter and the
individual who sold him the firearm found in his vehicle,