United States District Court, D. Columbia
[Copyrighted Material Omitted]
GREGORY JONES, Defendant, Pro se, Washington, DC.
GREGORY JONES, Defendant: Jonathan Jeffress, LEAD ATTORNEY,
FEDERAL PUBLIC DEFENDER FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA,
USA, Plaintiff: Jamila Hoard Hodge, LEAD ATTORNEY, U.S.
ATTORNEY'S OFFICE FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA,
Documents No.: 6, 7
Defendant's Motion to Suppress Physical Evidence and
Denying Defendant's Motion to Suppress
CONTRERAS, United States District Judge.
Gregory Jones was indicted on one count of possession with
intent to distribute a substance containing a detectable
amount of cocaine base, in violation of
21 U.S.C. § § 841(a)(1) and 841(b)(1)(C), and one
count of possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug
trafficking offense, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §
924(c)(1). Before the Court is Jones's motion to suppress
physical evidence that was recovered after Jones was stopped
by police (ECF No. 7) and his motion to suppress statements
he made during two later interviews conducted with members of
the District of Columbia Metropolitan Police Department
(" MPD" ) (ECF No. 6). Upon consideration of the
motions and the government's oppositions thereto, the
Court will deny both motions.
early morning hours of June 29, 2015, Officer John Wright and
Officer Patrick Vaillancourt of the MPD's Narcotics and
Special Investigations Division Gun Recovery Unit were
patrolling the Trinidad neighborhood of Washington, D.C. Tr.
of Mot. Hr'g at 8-9, ECF No. 14. The unit had been
dispatched to patrol that neighborhood in light of several
recent homicides involving firearms. Id. at 9. The
officers drove an unmarked gray Ford Explorer and were
dressed in casual attire, although they wore tactical vests
with police placards on the front and back. Id. at
driving on the 1100 block of Queen Street, Northeast, the
officers observed four men sitting on the stairs and landing
of an apartment building at 1116 Queen Street. Id.
at 9-10. Defendant Jones and another individual were both
sitting on the landing in front of the door, while two other
men sat on the front steps of the building in front of Jones.
Id. at 12. Officer Vaillancourt testified that the
men's presence drew the officers' attention because
there were no other people out in that area after midnight.
Id. at 14, 36. In front of the men and on the bottom
step of the stoop were four liquor bottles. Id. at
14. The officers stopped their vehicle in front of the
building. From the vehicle, Officer Wright identified himself
and Officer Vaillancourt as police officers and began a
conversation with the men. Id. at 14. During that
conversation, Officer Wright asked if the men had any
firearms on their persons. According to Officer
Vaillancourt's testimony, the men, including Jones,
appeared nervous and reluctantly responded in the negative.
Id. at 14-15, 38.
Wright then asked if he could see the men's waistbands.
Id. at 14-15. Three of the men complied and lifted
their shirts to expose their waistbands. As a result, the
officers could visibly see that those men were not carrying
firearms in their waistbands. Id. at 15. Jones,
however, was sitting behind one of the other men. Officer
Vaillancourt testified that Jones did not stand up completely
and, as a result, the majority of Jones's body--including
his waistband--remained obstructed from the officers'
view. Jones did raise his arms halfway over his head, and up
to his shoulder area. But, unlike the other men, he did not
lift up his shirt and display his waistband. Id. at
15-16, 43-45. When Jones raised his arms, the officers also
noticed that he was wearing a single, white latex glove on
his right hand. From his training and experience, Officer
Vaillancourt understood latex gloves to be commonly worn by
individuals who distribute PCP while handling the drug.
Id. at 16.
point, and " [b]ased on the suspicion that there may be
liquid PCP or even firearms, based on Mr. Jones'[s]
awkward response to [the officers'] question,"
Officer Wright called for backup, although he and Officer
Vaillancourt remained in the vehicle. Id. at 16.
While the officers waited for backup to arrive, the men began
to gather their things. Officer Vaillancourt noticed Jones
" moving something around his waistband to his left
at 17. Then, as if " there was something he was trying
to move underneath his butt," Officer Vaillancourt
observed Jones " sort of rock[ing] back and forth as if
to adjust his seat" and doing so "
continuously." Id. at 17. When the man sitting
in front of Jones stood, Officer Vaillancourt was able to see
Jones more clearly, and he saw that Jones's " hands
were pretty much in between his knees while he was sitting,
and it appeared he was trying to stealthily just take the
glove off." Id. at 18. Officer Vaillancourt
" decided to exit the vehicle and try to continue [the
officers'] contact with [the men] and try to keep them in
the area while the other officers were still
responding." Id. at 18. Although the officers
remained on the sidewalk and attempted to continue talking
with the three men other than Jones, the officers "
didn't observe anything suspicious from th[ose]
individuals" and " allowed them to walk out of the
area." Id. at 18; see also
id. at 56.
also attempted to leave. As Jones stood, however, the
officers noticed a black, opaque plastic bag on the landing
where Jones had been sitting. Id. at 20. Because
" Jones was doing other things besides gathering his
stuff together," Officer Vaillancourt testified that
Jones " seemed to be a little bit behind everyone."
Id. at 19. As Jones attempted to follow the other
men, Vaillancourt told Jones: " I need to talk to you
for a second, you need to stop." Id. Instead of
stopping, Jones quickened his pace. Id. Although the
officers attempted to stop him, Jones tried to push through
them. Id. A scuffle ensued during which the officers
took Jones to the ground. Id. With the help of the
additional officers who by then had arrived as backup,
Officers Wright and Vaillancourt handcuffed Jones.
Id. at 20.
Jones was restrained, Officer Wright looked underneath the
plastic bag on which Jones had been sitting. Id.
Underneath the bag, the officers recovered a semi-automatic
Glock firearm loaded with one round of ammunition, and an
extended magazine that contained twenty-nine
rounds. Id. at 22-23. The officers
also recovered two smaller plastic bags from underneath the
larger, black bag--one was clear, and the other was white and
opaque. Id. at 20, 23. The clear bag contained
twenty blue zips, while the solid white bag contained
thirty-five blue and pink zips. Id. at 25. Together,
fifty-five zips were recovered, and the results of a sample
field test indicated the presence of cocaine base.
Id. Finally, a white latex glove was also left on
the stairs. Id. at 26. After recovering the firearm
and drugs, the officers decided to arrest
Jones. Id. at 54.
was transferred to the MPD's Fifth District station,
where he was interviewed by Detective Hain. Id. at
32. After introducing himself and obtaining background
information about Jones, including his name, date of birth,
and address, Detective Hain informed Jones that he was
arrested for possession with intent to distribute drugs while
armed and stated that " if you want to talk to me about
that, I've got to read you your rights." Gov'ts
Ex. 10 (DVD of Def.'s Interview at Fifth District) at
5:14-8:02. Detective Hain then asked Jones if he was under
the influence of any drugs, narcotics, alcohol, or
prescription drugs. Id. at 8:03-8:05. Jones told
Detective Hain that he was under the influence of alcohol and
that he " just had one" drink. Id. at
8:06-8:14. In response to the detective's question as to
whether Jones understood what was going on around him, Jones
answered " No." Id. at 8:15-8:24. Jones
then asked, without prompting: " Can I have a
lawyer?" Id. at 8:25. At that point, Detective
Hain said " all right," ceased talking to the
defendant, and began writing on the piece of paper in front
of him. Id. at 8:26-8:31.
five seconds later, and unsolicited, Jones then initiated the
JONES: What do you want to ask me questions about, first?
DETECTIVE HAIN: Nah, man, you're --
JONES: No, but I don't need a lawyer. ...