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Wilson v. United States

Court of Appeals of Columbia District

November 6, 2014

THURMAN N. WILSON, APPELLANT,
v.
UNITED STATES, APPELLEE

Argued October 2, 2014

Appeal from the Superior Court of the District of Columbia. (CMD-9742-12). (Hon. Harold L. Cushenberry, Jr., Trial Judge).

Bryan P. MacAvoy for appellant.

Stephen F. Rickard, Assistant United States Attorney, with whom Ronald C. Machen Jr., United States Attorney, and Elizabeth Trosman, Assistant United States Attorney, were on the brief, for appellee.

Before FISHER and BECKWITH, Associate Judges, and NEBEKER, Senior Judge.

OPINION

Page 752

Fisher, Associate Judge :

After denying his motion to suppress, the trial court convicted appellant Thurman Wilson of unlawful possession of cocaine and assault on a police officer (APO). On appeal, appellant challenges the denial of his motion to suppress the cocaine and argues that the evidence was insufficient to support his APO conviction. We affirm.

I. Factual and Procedural Background

Viewed in the light most favorable to the government,[1] the evidence showed the following. At approximately 5:45 p.m. on June 5, 2012, Officer Andre Martin, a veteran of the Metropolitan Police Department with twenty years of drug enforcement experience, was conducting undercover surveillance at the 4200 block of 4th Street, S.E., an area known for high drug activity. After observing a known drug buyer give appellant what appeared to be money in exchange for a small object, Officer Martin broadcast a lookout for a male wearing a dark fishing hat.

Officers Kristopher Plumley and Marcus Stevens heard the broadcast, spotted appellant, who matched the lookout description, and got out of their unmarked vehicle to approach him. Officer Plumley wore plain clothes, but he also sported a tactical vest emblazoned with " police" in three-inch lettering. Before the officers could speak, appellant saw them and took off running in the opposite direction. Officer Plumley eventually caught up to appellant and placed him in handcuffs. Soon thereafter, Officer Martin positively identified appellant in a show-up procedure.

After the show-up, appellant stood in handcuffs between Officers Plumley and Stevens. Without warning, appellant jerked his body and pulled his arms away from the officers' hold, falling backwards to the ground and knocking Officer Plumley off the curb. The officers tried to pick appellant up, but he refused to stand on his own. After informing appellant that he was under arrest for assault on a police officer, the officers escorted him to their cruiser. As they tried to place him in the vehicle, appellant flailed his arms and kicked and pushed his legs. The officers eventually subdued appellant and transported him to their station. There, a search incident to arrest uncovered cocaine in appellant's shoe and $140 in U.S. currency.

Page 753

Appellant moved to suppress the cocaine and currency as the products of an illegal search and arrest. Crediting the testimony and experience of Officers Martin and Plumley, the trial court denied the motion, finding the officers' knowledge of the two-way transaction, the lookout description, and appellant's subsequent flight gave Officer Plumley reasonable, articulable suspicion to seize appellant. The handcuffing of appellant was a reasonable precaution given the totality of the circumstances, and it did not convert the initial seizure into an ...


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