concealed weapons. Here, the officers possessed just such a reasonable suspicion. Having obtained an anonymous tip that drugs were being dropped off by a heavy set man driving a Ford Escort with Maryland registration WBK-444, the officers investigated this information. While patrolling the area, they identified a burgundy Ford Escort with the exact license plate number that the caller had communicated. In addition, they observed a heavy set male in the driver's seat. Thus, all of the information communicated to the police by the anonymous caller was corroborated by the officers' independent investigation. Such corroboration coupled with the fact that the area at issue was known by the officers to be a high drug-trafficking neighborhood provided the officers with enough information to create a reasonable suspicion in their minds with regard to the individual who was observed in the Ford Escort. This Court is convinced that as a matter of law the officers in this case had enough information to create a reasonable suspicion in their minds regarding the individual who was seated in the Ford Escort. Thus, the officers acted lawfully when they approached the vehicle in order to question the occupant to pursue the information that had been received.
Since the officers could have legitimately stopped the defendant to question him, the next issue is whether the subsequent detainment of the defendant was proper. As the Supreme Court has stated, ". . . a brief stop of a suspicious individual, in order to determine his identity or to maintain the status quo momentarily while obtaining more information, may be most reasonable in light of the facts known to the officer at the time." Adams v. Williams, 407 U.S. 143, 146, 32 L. Ed. 2d 612, 92 S. Ct. 1921 (1976). Here, the defendant was observed by Officer Delpo to have thrown the brown bag which he was carrying onto a nearby rooftop. This behavior when viewed in combination with the defendant's effort to evade the police provided the officers with the necessary legal basis for detaining the defendant until the bag could be removed from the rooftop.
Additionally, the Supreme Court has observed, "In testing the sufficiency of probable cause for an officer's [arrest] even without a warrant, we have held that he may rely upon information received through an informant, rather than upon his direct observations, so long as the informant's statement is reasonably corroborated by other matters within the officer's knowledge." Jones v. United States, 362 U.S. 257, 269, 4 L. Ed. 2d 697, 80 S. Ct. 725 (1960). Here, as noted above, the officers did not begin to act until they corroborated the factual information provided by the anonymous caller.
Moreover, it is well recognized that once an officer has the requisite reasonable suspicion to stop and question an individual, and that individual deliberately takes flight when approached by the officer, the officer no longer just has mere reasonable suspicion. See e.g., Peters v. New York, decided together with Sibron v. New York, 392 U.S. 40, 66-67, 20 L. Ed. 2d 917, 88 S. Ct. 1889 (1968) ("Deliberately furtive actions and flight at the approach of strangers or law officers are strong indicia of mens rea, and when coupled with specific knowledge on the part of the officer relating the suspect to the evidence of crime, they are proper factors to be considered in the decision to make an arrest"). As Justice Brennan has stated, "Some reactions to a properly limited Terry encounter . . . such as flight, may often provide the necessary information, in addition to that which the officers already possess, to constitute probable cause." Kolender v. Lawson, 461 U.S. 352, 366 n. 4, 75 L. Ed. 2d 903, 103 S. Ct. 1855 (1983) (Brennan, J., concurring).
While flight alone cannot give rise to probable cause; when coupled with a pre-existing reasonable and articulable suspicion, it can be important corroborating evidence. Thus, if there already exists a significant degree of suspicion concerning a particular person, the flight of that individual upon the approach of the police may be taken into account and may well elevate the pre-existing suspicion up to the requisite Fourth Amendment level of probable cause." See 2 W. LaFave, Search & Seizure § 3.6(e), p. 62-63 (2d ed. 1987). Here, the officers possessed a prior and articulable basis for their suspicion. Mr. McFadden's flight, the throwing of the bag onto the rooftop, and the subsequent recovery of the bag which contained cocaine and marijuana provided the officers with the additional information they needed to complete the arrest. Thus, after considering the totality of the circumstances,
this Court concludes that the officers had the requisite probable cause to arrest the defendant, Mr. McFadden. This being the case the evidence recovered from the rooftop subsequent to defendant's being taken into custody will not be suppressed. See e.g. United States v. Green, 216 U.S. App. D.C. 329, 670 F.2d 1148 (D.C. Cir. 1981); United States v. Allen, 203 U.S. App. D.C. 17, 629 F.2d 51 (D.C. Cir. 1980).
The search of defendant's vehicle gives rise to other issues. According to the testimony elicited at the hearing before this Court, the defendant was taken into custody several blocks from where the Ford Escort was parked. As noted by Officer Davis, prior to pursuing the defendant in the patrol car, one of the officers locked the doors to the vehicle to ensure that nothing in it would be disturbed. After arresting the defendant, the officers returned to the location of the Escort and proceeded to open the car with keys that had been found on the defendant's person. This Court is not satisfied that the facts in this case justified a warrantless search of the defendant's vehicle. Accordingly, I am going to suppress the.22 grams of cocaine recovered from under the driver's seat of the Ford Escort.
An appropriate order accompanies this opinion.
Dated: October 20, 1989
Upon consideration of defendant's motion to suppress evidence, the Government's opposition thereto and the hearing held before this Court on October 3, 1989, and in accordance with the opinion issued this date, it is
ORDERED that defendant's motion to suppress a quantity of cocaine and marijuana that was contained in a paper bag that defendant was observed to have thrown onto a rooftop is DENIED.
FURTHER ORDERED that defendant's motion to suppress.22 grams of cocaine that was found during a warrantless search of his vehicle is GRANTED.
Dated: October 20, 1989