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UNITED STATES v. WARD

March 28, 1991

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
NATHANIEL DAVID WARD, Defendant


June L. Green, United States District Judge.


The opinion of the court was delivered by: GREEN

JUNE L. GREEN, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

 This matter is before the Court on defendant Nathaniel David Ward's Motion to Suppress Physical Evidence and Statements and the government's opposition to the motion. At the motions hearing, Officer Oscar Garibay testified on behalf of the government. The defendant presented no evidence. For the reasons set forth below, the Court denies the defendant's motion to suppress.

 FACTS

 The Officer testified that at the roll call the night before the defendant's arrest, the officers were told to be on the look-out for a new model, black Ford Mustang with District of Columbia plates, containing two black males suspected of committing several, recent armed robberies. Officer Garibay testified that the officers also had been advised that the suspects lived in the area he and Officer Felenchak were patrolling the night of the defendant's arrest.

 Officer Garibay testified that because the car matched the description given in the lookout, he and Officer Felenchak decided to investigate the identity of the two individuals in the vehicle. Officer Felenchak turned on the police vehicle's emergency lights and pulled along side the Mustang. According to Officer Garibay, the Mustang immediately reversed and sped backward down the street. The officers pursued. Forty to fifty feet away, the Mustang halted. According to Officer Garibay, the defendant jumped out of the passenger side and ran into a cut between two buildings. Officer Garibay also departed his vehicle and chased the defendant on foot.

 As he pursued the defendant, Officer Garibay stated that he observed Mr. Ward stop briefly behind a white van parked in back of the buildings. He said he saw the defendant pull a white-capped, medicine bottle from his jacket pocket and throw it under the van. Next, he saw the defendant remove his jacket and also discard it.

 The officer testified that he pursued the defendant a short distance further. He stated that as the defendant rounded a corner he looked directly at Mr. Ward's face so he would be able to identify him later. Then, the officer stated, he returned to the white van to retrieve the medicine bottle and the defendant's jacket.

 Officer Garibay testified that once he had retrieved the property discarded by the defendant, he flagged down a passing police cruiser and used their radio to broadcast a lookout for the defendant. Approximately four minutes later, Officer Garibay received word that a person matching the description in the lookout had been stopped one block away. Officer Garibay testified that he went to the area and made a face-to-face identification of the defendant. Mr. Ward then was arrested.

 ANALYSIS

 The defendant argues that, under the Fourth Amendment, law enforcement officers must have probable cause for an arrest before initiating a stop such as the one attempted by Officers Garibay and Felenchak in stopping the black Ford Mustang 5.0. The defendant further contends that Officers Garibay and Felenchak did not have probable cause for an arrest when they initiated the stop of the Mustang. Because the physical evidence and defendant's statement were obtained as a result of an illegal and coercive police act, the defendant argues the evidence must be suppressed. The defendant also contends that even under an articulable suspicion standard, the evidence must be suppressed because the facts did not justify the stop.

 The government contends that the Court must use the reasonable suspicion standard in judging the officers' attempt to stop the Mustang. Under this standard, the government argues, the Court should find the facts sufficient to create a reasonable suspicion warranting the stop. The government also argues that Officer Garibay's chase of the defendant was further justified by the defendant's actions in fleeing from the officers, and that the physical evidence was seized lawfully after it was abandoned by the defendant.

 It is well-established that "law enforcement officers may stop a motor vehicle for investigatory purposes when they have a 'reasonable, articulable suspicion that the person has been, is or is about to be engaged in criminal activity.'" United States v. Wantland, 754 F.2d 268, 270 (8th Cir., 1985), quoting United States v. Place, 462 U.S. 696, 77 L. Ed. 2d 110, 103 S. Ct. 2637 (1983). See also United States v. Hensley, 469 U.S. 221, 83 L. Ed. 2d 604, 105 S. Ct. 675 (1985). However, the stop must be "reasonably related in scope to the justification for its initiation." Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1, 29, 20 L. Ed. 2d 889, 88 S. Ct. 1868 (1968). In determining the ...


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