United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Fayetteville Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
TIMOTHY L. BROOKS, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
before the Court is-Defendant Charlie Foster's Motion to
Suppress (Doc. 20) and the Government's Response (Doc.
22). On May 8, 2019, Mr. Foster was charged by Indictment
(Doc. 1) with knowingly possessing a firearm after having
been convicted of a crime punishable by imprisonment for a
term exceeding one year, in violation of 18 U.S.C.
§§ 922(g)(1) and 924(a)(2). Mr. Foster seeks to
suppress evidence related to a firearm found on his person
and which led to his indictment. For the reasons given below,
Mr. Foster's Motion is DENIED.
following facts are taken from Mr. Foster's Motion to
Suppress. (Doc. 20). On March 5, 2019, Officer Johnson with
the Springdale Police Department stopped a black Toyota
Avalon for "having an unsafe windshield (several
cracks)." Id. at 1. Officer Johnson made
contact with the driver of the vehicle, Mr. Foster, and
explained, "the reason I pulled you over is you got this
cracked windshield." Id. at 5. Officer Johnson
then asked Mr. Foster and his female passenger for
identification. Mr. Foster provided his driver's license,
and the passenger, who did not have a form of identification,
provided a name that was later determined to be fictitious.
At that time, Officer Johnson noted that Mr. Foster and the
passenger appeared to be "very nervous."
Id. at 1. Specifically, Officer Johnson observed Mr.
Foster's hands shaking.
returning to his police cruiser to check Mr. Foster and his
passenger for outstanding warrants, Officer Johnson observed
Mr. Foster and the passenger "moving around inside the
vehicle." Id. at 1-2. Additionally, Officer
Johnson learned from dispatch that Mr. Foster was on parole
with a search waiver on file and that the passenger had an
active warrant for her arrest. At that time, Officer Johnson
returned to the vehicle and ordered Mr. Foster to step
outside. Complying with that order, Mr. Foster exited the
vehicle and "tugged his jacket down with his hand."
Id. at 2. Officer Johnson then explained to Mr.
Foster that he had observed Mr. Foster and his passenger
moving around in the vehicle, to which Mr. Foster replied
that the two were "putting the paperwork back in the
glove compartment." Id. Officer Johnson then
conducted a pat down of Mr. Foster for weapons, which
revealed a handgun.
Motion to suppress, Mr. Foster asks this Court to suppress
the handgun found on his person. Mr. Foster advances two
arguments in support of this request: (1) that Officer
Johnson did not have probable cause to make the initial
traffic stop; and (2) that Officer Johnson unreasonably
extended the initial stop by asking Mr. Foster and his
passenger for identification. Notably, Mr. Foster does not
argue that the search of his person was unconstitutional. The
Motion has been fully briefed, and the matter is now ripe for
Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution provides:
The right of the people to be secure in their persons,
houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches
and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants
shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or
affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be
searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
U.S. Const, amend. IV. Simply put, the basic purpose of the
Fourth Amendment "is to safeguard the privacy and
security of individuals against arbitrary invasions by
governmental officials." United States v.
Carpenter, 138 S.Ct. 2206, 2213 (2018) (internal
quotation marks omitted).
Fourth Amendment purposes, "[i]t is well established
that a roadside traffic stop is a 'seizure' within
the meaning of the Fourth Amendment." United States
v. Jones, 269 F.3d 919, 924 (8th Cir. 2001). To be a
reasonable seizure, "a traffic stop must be supported
by, at a minimum, 'a reasonable, articulable suspicion
that criminal activity' is occurring." United
States v. Frasher, 632 F.3d 450, 453 (8th Cir. 2011)
(quoting Jones, 289 F.3d at 924.). A traffic
violation, even for a minor infraction, provides the
necessary quantum of suspicion to stop a vehicle and its
occupants. See Frasher, 632 F.3d at 453. Thus, a
police officer may lawfully conduct a traffic stop of a
vehicle when the officer is "aware of particularized,
objective facts which, taken together with rational
inferences from those facts, reasonably warrant
suspicion" that a traffic violation is being committed.
United States v. Martin, 706 F.2d 263, 265 (8th Cir.
determine whether a police officer had the requisite level of
suspicion to conduct a valid traffic stop, a court must look
at whether "the facts available to the officer at the
moment of the seizure or the search [would] warrant a man of
reasonable caution in the belief that the action taken was
appropriate!.]" TeAry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1,
21-22 (1968) (internal quotation marks omitted). Although
"something more than a 'hunch' of wrongdoing is
necessary, the level of suspicion required to support a
traffic stop is 'considerably less' than proof of
wrongdoing by a preponderance of the evidence. United
States v. Edgerton, 438 F.3d 1043, 1047 (10th Cir. 2006)
(internal quotation marks omitted). Furthermore,
"mistakes of law or fact, if objectively reasonable, may
still justify a valid stop." United States v.
Hollins, 685 F.3d 703, 706 (8th Cir. 2012). "[I]n
mistake cases the question is simply whether the mistake,
whether of law or of fact, was an objectively reasonable
one." United States v. Smart, 393 F.3d 767, 770
(8th Cir. 2005). In sum, the determination of whether
reasonable suspicion existed "is not to be made with the
vision of hindsight, but instead by looking to what the
officer reasonably knew at the time." Hollins,
685 F.3d at 706 (quoting United States v. Sanders,
196 F.3d 910, 913 (8th Cir. 1999)).
a valid traffic stop, a police officer may conduct
"routine tasks related to the traffic violation"
United States v. Chartier, 772 F.3d 539, 543 (8th
Cir. 2014). In addition to determining whether to issue a
traffic citation, such tasks include "checking the
driver's license, determining whether there are
outstanding warrants against the driver, and inspecting the
automobile's registration and proof of insurance."
Rodriguez v. United States, 135 S.Ct. 1609, 1615
(2015). "If, during the course of completing these
routine tasks, 'the officer develops reasonable suspicion
that other criminal activity is afoot, the officer may expand
the scope of the encounter to address that
suspicion.'" Chartier, 772 F.3d at 543
(quoting United States v. Peralez, 526 F.3d 1115,
1120 (8th Cir. 2008)). Absent suspicion of other criminal
activity, a traffic stop "remains lawful only 'so
long as [the] unrelated inquiries do not measurably extend
the duration of the stop.'" Rodriguez, 135
S.Ct. at 1615 (quoting Arizona v. Johnson, 555 U.S.
323, 333 (2009)).
criminal case, a defendant may move to suppress the use of
evidence at trial that the defendant believes was obtained in
violation of the Fourth Amendment, including any
"fruit" deriving from that evidence. See Wong
Sun v. United States,371 U.S. 471, 484-86 (1963). Such
evidence is suppressed only when two separate determinations
are made: (1) that "the Fourth Amendment rights of the
party seeking to invoke the rule were violated by police
conduct, " and (2) that "the exclusionary ...