no reasonable person in Mr. Eaglin's position could reasonably believe that he was free to leave in light of the threatening behavior of the police as described above.
Officer McCoy's pre-approach intent to stop Mr. Eaglin is relevant to, although not required for, the court's finding of seizure in the present case. While it is well-established that a court making a seizure inquiry must focus on the impact of police actions and circumstances on a reasonable person, not on the intentions of the police, which are unknown to the citizen at the time of the police-citizen encounter, Michigan v. Chesternut, 486 U.S. 567, 575 n. 7, 100 L. Ed. 2d 565, 108 S. Ct. 1975 (1988); United States v. Lewis, 287 U.S. App. D.C. 306, 921 F.2d 1294, 1300 (D.C. Cir. 1990), the police intentions can be relevant to the court's thorough consideration of the factors involved in making a seizure determination. In making a seizure determination, the admitted intention of the police to make a Terry stop can aid the court in its analysis of the police-citizen encounter insofar as it can elucidate how the police acted towards the citizen, such as manner of approach, tone of voice, etc. Such elucidation can assist the court in determining whether a person has been "seized" from a reasonable person's viewpoint.
As just explained, the subjective intention of the police, made known to the court at a suppression hearing, can be taken into consideration by the court when making a seizure determination even though the citizen could not have known the intention of the police at the time of the encounter. In the present case, for example, Officer McCoy testified that he had made the decision to stop Mr. Eaglin even before pulling the Bronco up in front of him. Officer McCoy's intention to stop Mr. Eaglin before Mr. Eaglin was even aware of the officers' presence helps the court understand the manner in which the police subsequently approached Mr. Eaglin, such as the manner in which the police pulled up in the Bronco, jumped out of the vehicle, and announced their identity. In light of their intent, this court is convinced that the officers' actions, as just described above, were carried out in a manner which would give Mr. Eaglin the message that he was not free to go anywhere. A reasonable person in Mr. Eaglin's position would not have felt that he was free to disregard the police and continue on his way from the moment that the police announced their identity with guns drawn after jumping out of the Bronco which had been pulled across Mr. Eaglin's path.
The court having found that a seizure had taken place, the court must determine whether this seizure was lawful under fourth amendment law. It is important to note that the court, after hearing the testimony of Officer McCoy, finds that the seizure took place before Mr. Eaglin discarded the plastic bag. As such, the seizure must be justified by the circumstances as they existed before the bag was discarded.
A Terry stop is a seizure which must be justified by specific and articulable facts, and rational inferences to be drawn from those facts, which establish a reasonable suspicion that the person seized is involved in criminal activity. Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. at 21; United States v. White, 208 U.S. App. D.C. 289, 648 F.2d 29, 33 (D.C. Cir. 1981); United States v. Nurse, 286 U.S. App. D.C. 303, 916 F.2d 20, 22 (D.C. Cir. 1990).
In the present case, the police did not have the requisite facts to establish a reasonable suspicion that Mr. Eaglin was involved in criminal activity. Officer McCoy testified that it was determined that Mr. Eaglin did not fit the lookout description before the officers jumped from their vehicle and approached Mr. Eaglin. Because neither officer had observed Mr. Eaglin in any suspicious activity, and because the officers had determined that Mr. Eaglin did not fit the lookout description which would have linked him to illegal activity, the officers acted unlawfully when they seized Mr. Eaglin.
Because the officers' seizure of Mr. Eaglin was unlawful, it is hereby ORDERED that the drugs seized as fruit of that unlawful seizure are suppressed.