Officer Unconstitutionally Detained Defendant


Case: People v. Hannigan, Michigan Court of Appeals ( Unpublished Opinion )

Issues:

Motion to suppress the evidence of narcotics discovered in a recreational vehicle (RV) during a traffic stop; People v. Williams; Reasonable suspicion; People v. Kavanaugh; People v. Dillon; Terry v. Ohio; Illinois v. Caballes; Penn v. Mimms; Rodriguez v. United States; Consent that is the result of coercion or duress; People v. Bolduc

Summary:

In this interlocutory appeal, the court reversed the trial court’s order denying defendant’s motion to suppress the evidence of narcotics discovered during a traffic stop, and remanded. It found that the officer had reasonable concerns about “defendant’s driving after observing him drive over the gore and taking 1½ miles to pull over after the officer activated his emergency lights.” However, it held “that requiring defendant to wait for the dog impermissibly prolonged the traffic stop.” The dog arrived 15 minutes after the officer returned defendant’s documents and questioned him and his passengers. Based on a video and the suppression hearing testimony, “defendant did not consent to wait for the dog.” Considering the officer’s statements to him, “it appeared that defendant would not be free to leave unless he either: (1) allowed the officer to search the RV; or (2) waited for the dog to arrive to complete a contraband sniff. As a result, any assumed consent given by defendant was not ‘freely and voluntarily given,’” in light of the officer’s indication “that he did not have a choice to decline.” The officer expressly asked him to wait for the dog. Thus, “defendant’s assumed consent to wait for the dog was involuntary.” The continued detention of defendant and his passengers after the officer completed the computer checks on his information and questioned him “and his passengers was unconstitutional unless the stop revealed a set of new circumstances that led to a reasonably articulable suspicion that criminal activity was afoot.” Defendant’s driving and delay in stopping “after the officer activated his emergency lights could reasonably raise suspicion regarding a traffic violation, driving under the influence or while distracted, and whether defendant was perhaps trying to evade the officer for whatever reason, assuming that he saw the activated lights.” However, he was not under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and his passengers confirmed that he was not driving while distracted. The officer’s questioning “did not reveal any inconsistent stories, there were no outstanding warrants for defendant or his passengers, and the officer did not observe any signs indicating drug or alcohol use or the presence of any weapons.” Thus, even if the delay in pulling over “was initially indicative of possibly something illegal happening in the RV, it was not enough to support a finding of reasonable suspicion after the officer completed a brief investigation of defendant and his passengers.”

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