"Furtive Behavior" Justifies Traffic Stop


Police Officer

Holding that the district court erred in granting defendant’s motion to suppress the evidence arising from the traffic stop, and abused its discretion in failing to bind him over for trial, the court reversed and remanded for further proceedings. It concluded that the officers who conducted the investigatory stop “did not violate defendant’s Fourth Amendment rights by obtaining evidence from the stopped vehicle.”

Officer L’s testimony at the preliminary exam showed that the officers validly stopped the car based on L’s “reasonable suspicion that defendant, an occupant of the vehicle, was engaging in illegal activity.” L saw him “clutch a large bulge at his waistband after making eye contact” with L. Also, L testified that, “in his experience, which included four years of service with the Detroit Police Department, defendant’s behavior indicated that he was armed.” Thus, L “specifically articulated how his previous experience led him to draw an inference of criminal activity from defendant’s conduct.” The court also held that “the officers validly performed a protective search of the vehicle.” After the driver rolled down all of the windows at L’s request, L “saw defendant slump forward in the direction of the front passenger seat with his hands near the floorboard.” When L told him to exit the vehicle, defendant did not comply. He remained seated until Officer S asked him a second time to exit the vehicle.

“This furtive behavior, in conjunction with [L’s] reasonable suspicion—based on his experience—that defendant’s movements outside the gas station were indicative of an individual who was armed, provided specific and articulable facts that established a reasonable belief that defendant had access to a weapon” and was dangerous. Thus, S’s “limited search of the rear-passenger area of vehicle where defendant had been sitting, which produced a nickel-plated handgun, was a valid protective search.” Further, the court concluded that the prosecution presented sufficient evidence at the preliminary exam to bind defendant over on the charges of CCW in a motor vehicle, felony-firearm, and felon in possession.

e-Journal #: 60079

Case: People v. Edwards

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