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United States v. Moore

United States District Court, D. Nevada

May 7, 2018

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
JACQUELINE MOORE, Defendant.

          ORDER MOTION TO SUPPRESS [ECF NO.21]

          CAM FERENBACH, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Before the Court is Defendant Jacqueline Moore's Motion to Suppress. (ECF No. 21). For the reasons discussed below, Defendant's motion is denied.[1]

         BACKGROUND

         In this case, Defendant is charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition. (ECF No. 1). Police found a gun in Defendant's car and ammunition in her purse after she allegedly committed a robbery. (ECF No. 21 at 3-4; ECF No. 24 at 3-4).

         On October 27, 2017, 911 received a call from K.O. who stated that she had been robbed. (ECF No. 21-1). K.O. said that “Jackie” broke her car window, pointed a small gun at her, threatened to shoot her, and stole her purse. (Id.). “Jackie” drove off with a male passenger in a “gold-ish” “truck.” (Id.). K.O. described Jackie as black, approximately 37 years old, medium build, with short blonde hair, wearing a one-piece gray and black jumpsuit. (Id.).

         Based on the 911 call, police began searching the area for a gold “truck” and the two suspects. (ECF No. 24-4). Police arrived at the crime scene and interviewed K.O. (ECF No. 21-4). During the process, K.O. described the male passenger, “Stacey, ” as a heavy-set, light-skinned black male. (Id.). K.O. also indicated that the gold vehicle could have been an SUV. (Id.). The on-scene officers updated the officers searching for the suspects regarding “Stacey's” description and informed the searching officers that the vehicle could also be an SUV. (Id.).

         Approximately 20 minutes after the 911 call, two officers spotted a gold SUV with two individuals who matched the descriptions given by K.O. (ECF No. 24-4). The two officers, with their weapons drawn, ordered the suspects to lie down face first to wait for other officers to arrive. (Id.). Police eventually handcuffed both suspects. (Id.). During this process, the male responded when the officers called him “Stacey.” (Id.). Approximately 30 minutes later, officers took K.O. to view the suspects. (ECF No. 24-9). K.O. positively identified the vehicle, Defendant as “Jackie”, and the male suspect as “Stacey.” (Id.). Officers applied for and were granted a search warrant for the vehicle. (ECF No. 21-2 at 8-9). Officers found a gun in the car and ammunition in Defendant's purse. (ECF No. 21 at 3-4; ECF No. 24 at 3-4). Officers also determined that Defendant is a convicted felon and obtained a warrant for her DNA. (ECF No. 21 at 5; ECF No. 24 at 4)

         Defendant filed a motion to suppress all evidence obtained following the stop in this case. (ECF No. 21). Defendant argues that since K.O. was not sure whether the vehicle was a truck or SUV, officers did not have reasonable suspicion to stop the Defendant merely for being in a gold SUV. (Id. at 6). Defendant also asserts that the level of force used by officers and the delay before Defendant was identified by K.O. transformed the stop into an arrest.[2] (Id. at 7-8). Finally, Defendant contends that the Government's application for a search warrant regarding Defendant's car misrepresented and omitted key facts that undermine the Court's probable cause determination. In opposition, the Government argues officers had reasonable suspicion to stop Defendant based on K.O.'s information, the stop was not an arrest, and the warrant application did not contain any material misrepresentation or omission. (ECF No. 24 at 9-11, 15-16). Defendant filed a reply further supporting her arguments. (ECF No. 27).

         DISCUSSION

         The Fourth Amendment protects the right of people to be secure against unreasonable searches and seizures. Though the Fourth Amendment does not specifically preclude admission of evidence obtained in violation of its provisions, the courts have established “an exclusionary rule that, when applicable, forbids the use of improperly obtained evidence at trial.” Herring v. United States, 555 U.S. 135, 139-40 (2009).

         I. Whether this Case Involves a Stop or Arrest

         To determine the level of cause or suspicion the officers had to have to take Defendant into custody, the Court must determine whether this was a stop or arrest. “[A] warrantless arrest by a law officer is reasonable under the Fourth Amendment where there is probable cause to believe that a criminal offense has been or is being committed.” Devenpeck v. Alford, 543 U.S. 146, 152 (2004). An investigatory Terry stop must be supported by reasonable suspicion. United States v. Crapser, 472 F.3d 1141, 1147 (9th Cir. 2007).

         “There is no bright-line rule to determine when an investigatory stop becomes an arrest.” Washington v. Lambert, 98 F.3d 1181, 1185 (9th Cir. 1996). In evaluating the totality of the circumstances, the Court “considers the intrusiveness of the methods used in light of whether these methods were ‘reasonable given the specific circumstances.'” Green v. City & Cty. of San Francisco, 751 F.3d 1039, 1047 (9th Cir. 2014) (quoting Washington v. Lambert, 98 F.3d 1181, 1185 (9th Cir. 1996). The Court allows “especially intrusive means” to effectuate a Terry stop when “the officers' conduct was a reasonable response to legitimate safety concerns on the part of the investigating officers, ” such as:

1) where the suspect is uncooperative or takes action at the scene that raises a reasonable possibility of danger or flight; 2) where the police have information that the suspect is currently armed; 3) where the stop closely follows a violent crime; and 4) where the police have ...

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