Submitted: October 20, 2017
from United States District Court for the District of
Minnesota - St. Paul
WOLLMAN and SHEPHERD, Circuit Judges, and GOLDBERG,
SHEPHERD, CIRCUIT JUDGE.
October 21, 2014, at approximately 1:28 p.m., police received
reports of shots being fired between two vehicles in St.
Paul, Minnesota. Dispatch informed responding officers that
one of the vehicles-a tan Buick-had crashed into a house and
its two male occupants had fled on foot. Officers arrived at
the scene to find the wrecked Buick with bullet holes along
its passenger side and a shot-out rear window. They noticed
the Buick's key in its ignition and a handgun on the
driver's side floorboard. A witness informed the officers
that after the crash the other vehicle's shooter
continued to fire at the Buick. The witness stated that the
Buick's two occupants fled the scene on foot heading
west, describing one as a black male, in his early 20s,
wearing a white t-shirt. Another witness also reported seeing
an approximately 25-year-old black male in a white t-shirt
running westward from the Buick. Officers found a man
matching this description hiding behind a shed a block and a
half away. That man was appellant Prentiss Crumble.
took Crumble into custody and drove him to the scene of the
wrecked Buick-where he denied any knowledge of the shooting
or the Buick. When an officer searched the Buick later that
day, he found a cell phone on the driver's seat, which he
secured into evidence. The following day, the officer applied
for a search warrant to search the cell phone for
"information as to the second occupant in the Buick or
further information related to the crime." A county
judge issued a warrant to search "[a]ll electronic data
(including but not limited to contacts, calenders, call
records, voice messages, text messages, photo and video
files) stored in" the phone. In the subsequent search,
the officer found a video of Crumble inside a vehicle wearing
a white t-shirt and brandishing a handgun similar to that
recovered from the Buick. The video was recorded shortly
before the shooting on October 21, 2014 at 1:15 p.m.
was charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm in
violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 922(g)(1) and 924(e).
Crumble moved to suppress the evidence recovered from the
cell phone. The magistrate judge recommended granting
Crumble's motion to suppress, finding Crumble had not
abandoned his Fourth Amendment rights in the phone. The
district court rejected the magistrate judge's
recommendation, concluding that the evidence from the cell
phone was admissible because Crumble abandoned the Buick and
the phone left in it when he fled and subsequently denied any
knowledge of the vehicle. The district court alternatively
held that the search warrant was supported by probable cause
and did not lack particularity or amount to a general
warrant. Finally, even if there were no probable cause or a
lack of particularity, the good-faith exception applied
because it was objectively reasonable for the police to rely
on the warrant.
entered a conditional guilty plea, reserving his right to
appeal the district court's denial of his motion to
suppress the evidence obtained in the search of his cell
phone. At sentencing, the government sought application of
the Armed Career Criminal Act ("ACCA") based on
Crumble's prior felony convictions under Minnesota law,
which included a conviction for second-degree assault, a
conviction for second-degree burglary, and two convictions
for third-degree burglary. Crumble argued the burglary
convictions were not violent felonies under the ACCA. The
district court disagreed and imposed the ACCA mandatory
minimum sentence of 15 years in prison. Crumble now appeals
his conviction and sentence.
first take up Crumble's Fourth Amendment challenge to the
search of the cell phone. The Fourth Amendment protects
"against unreasonable searches and seizures." U.S.
Const. amend. IV. "[I]n order to claim the protection of
the Fourth Amendment, a defendant must demonstrate that he
personally has [a reasonable] expectation of privacy in the
place searched . . . . " Minnesota v. Carter,
525 U.S. 83, 88 (1998). Therefore, we must initially consider
whether Crumble had a reasonable expectation of privacy in
the cell phone he left behind in the Buick.
well-established that a defendant does not have a reasonable
expectation of privacy in abandoned property. See United
States v. Tugwell, 125 F.3d 600, 602 (8th Cir. 1997).
Thus, if Crumble abandoned the cell phone, he forfeited his
expectation of privacy and cannot raise a Fourth Amendment
challenge to the subsequent search. See id. ("A
warrantless search of abandoned property does not implicate
the Fourth Amendment, for any expectation of privacy in the
item searched is forfeited upon its abandonment.").
"The issue is not abandonment in the strict property
right sense, but rather, whether the defendant in leaving the
property has relinquished [his] reasonable expectation of
privacy . . . . " Id. (internal quotation marks
omitted). A finding of abandonment depends on the totality of
the circumstances, with "two important factors [being]
denial of ownership and physical relinquishment of the
property." Id. (internal quotation marks
omitted). Courts consider only "the objective facts
available to the investigating officers, not . . . the
owner's subjective intent." United States v.
Nowak, 825 F.3d 946, 948 (8th Cir. 2016) (per curiam)
(internal quotation marks omitted).
the district court found that Crumble abandoned the cell
phone. We review this factual finding for clear error,
"affirm[ing] the district court's abandonment
finding unless its decision is 'unsupported by
substantial evidence, based on an erroneous interpretation of
applicable law, or, in light of the entire record, we are
left with a firm and definite conviction that a mistake has
been made.'" United States v. Ruiz, 935
F.2d 982, 984 (8th Cir. 1991) (quoting United States v.
Meirovitz, 918 F.2d 1376, 1379 (8th Cir. 1990)).
on the totality of the circumstances, we cannot say that the
district court clearly erred in finding Crumble abandoned the
cell phone in the Buick. After the crash, Crumble fled the
scene, leaving the Buick wrecked on a stranger's lawn.
The Buick's key was in the ignition and its back window
was shot out-allowing for easy access to the vehicle and its
contents-which included a gun on the floorboard and the cell
phone on the driver's seat. Crumble claims he was not
fleeing from police, but rather attempting to get away from
the shooter in the other vehicle. Abandonment, however, does
not turn on Crumble's subjective intent, but rather
"the objective facts available to the investigating
officers." Nowak, 825 F.3d at 948 (internal
quotation marks omitted). Based on these objective facts, the
district court did not clearly err in concluding Crumble had
abandoned the vehicle and its contents, including the cell
phone. See United States v. Taylor, 462 F.3d 1023,
1025-26 (8th Cir. 2006) (finding defendant abandoned cell
phone when he dropped it on street while fleeing vehicle);
see also United States v. Smith, 648 F.3d 654, 660
(8th Cir. 2011) (finding defendant abandoned vehicle and
contents when he fled, leaving door open, key in ignition,
and motor running); United States v. Tate, 821 F.2d
1328, 1330 (8th Cir. 1987) (finding defendant abandoned
vehicle and contents when he fled, leaving vehicle unoccupied
Crumble initially denied any knowledge of the wrecked Buick,
evincing his intent to abandon the vehicle and its contents.
See United States v. Nordling, 804 F.2d 1466, 1470
(8th Cir. 1986) (finding defendant's "denials
objectively demonstrate an intent to abandon the
property"). Only the following day-after police had
already seized the cell phone-did Crumble admit to having
been in the Buick. ...