Court Upholds Police Pat-Down Search


Case: People v. Moussa

Court: Michigan Court of Appeals ( Unpublished Opinion )

Judges: Per Curiam – Riordan, Saad, and Markey

Issues:

Search & seizure; Arizona v. Gant; Pat-down search; An investigative stop;People v. Jenkins; Terry v. Ohio; Search conducted at the jail after the defendant was arrested; People v. Champion; People v. Chapman; Lawfulness of an arrest; People v. Nguyen; Sufficiency of the evidence to support defendant’s resisting & obstructing an officer conviction; MCL 750.81d(1); People v. Quinn

Summary:

The court held that the pat-down search of the defendant for weapons in a parking lot was legal as part of an investigative Terry stop, and that the later search at the jail after she was arrested was also legal. Further, there was sufficient evidence to support her resisting and obstructing a police officer conviction. The court concluded that the officer (B) who spoke with defendant in the parking lot had a reasonable suspicion that she may be involved in a crime (the kidnapping of MC) when it became apparent that she claimed to be MC’s relative, but never tried to “contact MC’s parents at any time after taking MC from the bus.” Further, defendant claimed that she was worried that MC’s school backpack may have contained a bomb that could blow up the apartment complex. The court concluded that this put B on notice she might be armed or dangerous, and thus, his pat-down search of defendant under the circumstances was justified and legal. She also asserted that the search was unreasonable because B unzipped her coat. However, B testified that the normal pat-down procedure is that “the person puts their hands on their head while the officer searches their pockets, around their waist, and inside their coat to see if they are concealing any weapons.” He also testified that defendant was clothed underneath the coat, and that he did not search inside her pants or shirt. The court found that the search was clearly reasonable and lawful, as the testimony showed that it was designed to ensure that defendant did not have a weapon. As to the jail search, the court held that there was probable cause for defendant’s arrest and thus, she was lawfully searched incident to her arrest. Finally, each of the three elements of resisting and obstructing were met. There was sufficient evidence that she resisted or obstructed B and another officer, that she knew or had reason to know they were police officers, and that their commands and actions were lawful. Affirmed.

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