United States District Court, District of Columbia
MEMORANDUM OPINION DENYING DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO
SUPPRESS EVIDENCE AND STATEMENTS
RUDOLPH CONTRERAS United States District Judge.
Tyrone Wright is charged with three counts of bank robbery in
violation of 18, U.S.C. § 2113(a). The government
alleges that, over a two-day period, Mr. Wright robbed a
Premier Bank, twice, and a TD Bank, once. Mr. Wright, pro
se, moved to suppress some of the physical evidence and
statements that the government collected. See Mot.
Suppress Evid. & Statements, ECF No. 7 (Mot. Suppress).
The government opposed this motion. See
Gov't's Opp'n Def.'s Mot. Suppress Evid.
& Statements (Opp'n Suppress), ECF No. 12. Later,
while Mr. Wright was represented by counsel, his counsel
filed a supplemental suppression motion.Mot. Suppress
Statements & Tangible Evidence & Supp. P. & A.
(2d Mot. Suppress), ECF No. 28. Mr. Wright is currently
pro se once more. The Court held an evidentiary
hearing on the suppression motion on January 31, 2017, and is
now prepared to rule. For the following reasons, the Court
denies Mr. Wright's motion to suppress evidence and
government's evidence presented at the suppression
hearing provided the following account of the three bank
robberies allegedly committed by Mr. Wright. On April 20,
2016, a Premier Bank in D.C. was robbed by a person who
passed a note to the teller and received money. 1st Tr.
17:25-18:4, 20:3-14 (testimony of Special Agent Reginald
Harris). Law enforcement officers interviewed bank employees
and “the victim teller identified the bank robbery
suspect because [the victim teller] had previous dealings
with him” while the bank teller was employed at a
different location. 1st Tr. 18:25-19:5 (testimony of Special
Agent Harris). The bank teller identified the robber by name
as Tyrone Wright. 1st Tr. 19:12-15 (testimony of Special
Agent Harris). The bank teller also provided Mr. Wright's
birth date and address. 2d Tr. 3:13-15 (testimony of Sergeant
Morani Hines). The bank's security system recorded video
of the robbery, and a photograph from that footage was
circulated to law enforcement officers later that day. 1st
Tr. 20:18-21:25 (testimony of Special Agent Harris). The
distributed photograph clearly shows the robber's face.
Gov't Ex. H-7. Law enforcement officers also spoke to
library police officer Vernon Smith at the Northwest One
library after they learned that he might have knowledge
related to the robbery. 1st Tr. 22-23 (testimony of Special
Agent Harris). Officer Smith identified Tyrone Wright by name
as the person in the photograph from the Premier Bank
robbery. 1st Tr. 24-25 (testimony of Special Agent
Harris). Later on April 20, law enforcement officers received
and reviewed additional photographs from the bank's
surveillance system. 1st Tr. 26:9-27:4, Gov't Ex. H-8.
next day-April 21, 2016-a TD bank in D.C. was robbed using a
note. 2d Tr. 4:4-14 (testimony of Sergeant Hines). The bank
employee gave the robber money and a red dye pack, and the
dye pack triggered as the robber exited the bank. 2d Tr.
4:13-17 (testimony of Sergeant Hines). Law enforcement
officers recovered some money and the dye pack on the street
near the bank. 2d Tr. 4:15-5:9 (testimony of Sergeant Hines);
see also Gov't Ex. 27. The Premier Bank which
had been robbed on April 20 was also robbed again on April
21. 2d Tr. 5:19-6:5 (testimony of Sergeant Hines).
Photographs from the surveillance video at both banks were
circulated to law enforcement. Gov't Ex. H-9 (still
photographs from the TD bank robbery on April 21); Gov't
Ex. H-10 (still photographs from the Premier Bank robbery on
April 21); see also 2d Tr. 32:1-20 (testimony of
the two robberies occurred on April 21, Special Agent Harris
was dispatched to the Northwest One library as part of the
responding taskforce. 1st Tr. 28:19-22. As Special Agent
Harris approached, he saw Mr. Wright walking near the
Northwest One library and recognized him from the
surveillance photographs circulated after the April 20
robbery. 1st Tr. 29:11-30:1 (testimony of Special
Agent Harris). Special Agent Harris and his partner followed
Mr. Wright and saw him enter the library. 1st Tr. 32:17-33:8
(testimony of Special Agent Harris). They entered the
entrance hall of the library as Mr. Wright was coming back
out of the library. 1st Tr. 33:24-34:14 (testimony of Special
Agent Harris). Special Agent Harris asked if his name was Mr.
Wright, and Mr. Wright confirmed that was his name.
See 1st Tr. 35:18-21 (testimony of Special Agent
Harris) (indicating that Special Agent Harris asked
“was his name Mr. Tyrone Wright. I can't remember
how I asked him. I think he asked me ‘how do you know
my name.'”). After confirming that the person was Mr.
Wright, Special Agent Harris told Mr. Wright that he was a
“person of interest” in an investigation and
asked him to step outside. 1st Tr. 36 (testimony of Special
Agent Harris). Mr. Wright cooperated with the officers and
was not handcuffed or physically restrained. 1st Tr. 37
(testimony of Special Agent Harris).
officers talked with Mr. Wright for ten or fifteen minutes
until additional officers arrived. 1st Tr. 39:17-40:12
(testimony of Special Agent Harris). This conversation
apparently involved background information about Mr. Wright.
1st Tr. 40:12-17 (testimony of Special Agent Harris).
Although Mr. Wright answered some questions, he also refused
to answer other questions-for example, he refused to provide
his address. 1st Tr. 41:25-42:2 (testimony of Special Agent
Harris). During this time one of the officers noticed red
marks on Mr. Wright's clothing and fingers. 1st Tr.
41:14-25 (testimony of Special Agent Harris); see
also Gov't Ex. 38 (photograph of Mr. Wright at the
library showing red marks on his shirt); Gov't Ex. 39
(photograph of Mr. Wright at the library showing red marks on
additional law enforcement officers arrived, including
Sergeant Hines, the officers asked Mr. Wright if he would
accompany them to police headquarters. 2d Tr. 6:21-8:13
(testimony of Sergeant Hines). Mr. Wright refused to go to
police headquarters. 2d Tr. 8:13 (testimony of Sergeant
Hines). After his refusal, the officers handcuffed Mr. Wright
and patted him down. 2d Tr. 8:15-9:6 (testimony of Sergeant
Hines). This pat-down produced several items of evidence and
Mr. Wright was kept at the library until evidence technicians
arrived to collect the items. 2d Tr. 9:14-10:16 (testimony of
Sergeant Hines). The items collected at the library included
keys, cigarettes, a cell phone, red-stained tissues, and a
note reading “stay calm just pass over the money and no
one gets hurt.” 2d Tr. 24-27 (testimony of Sergeant
Hines); see also Gov't Exs. 40, 41, 42, 43.
During this time, one of the officers asked Mr. Wright about
the red markings on his clothing, and Mr. Wright indicated
that he had been painting. 2d Tr. 43:5-11 (testimony of
the evidence was collected, Mr. Wright was transported to the
police station. 2d Tr. 9:14-10:16 (testimony of Sergeant
Hines). Mr. Wright had still not been informed that he was
under arrest when he was transported in handcuffs to the
station, although Sergeant Hines indicated that he could
imagine no circumstances after arriving at the library in
which he would not take Mr. Wright to police headquarters. 2d
Tr. 10:17-20, 40:17-20 (testimony of Sergeant Hines).
station, additional evidence was collected from Mr. Wright.
2d Tr. 12:10-12 (testimony of Sergeant Hines); Gov't Ex.
H-13. The evidence collected included Mr. Wright's
clothes and both of his shoes, which were stuffed with money.
2d Tr. 12:10-12, 31:18-19 (testimony of Sergeant Hines);
Gov't Ex. H-13. Mr. Wright was provided with a jumpsuit
to wear and was restrained with ankle restraints inside the
interview room. 2d Tr. 46:17-24 (testimony of Sergeant
Hines); Gov't Ex. H-13. Sergeant Hines testified that he
brought Mr. Wright water to drink at the police
station. 2d Tr. 11:19-20 (testimony of Sergeant
Wright's time at the police station was captured on
video, beginning with the collection of evidence and clothing
and continuing through his interview with police officers.
See Gov't Ex. H-13. The Court has reviewed the
entire three hour video recording. Before the interview
began, Sergeant Hines read a sheet containing
Miranda warnings to Mr. Wright,  and Mr. Wright
acknowledged and signed the waiver. 2d Tr. 12:19-23
(testimony of Sergeant Hines); see also Gov't
Ex. H-13; Gov't Ex. H-6 (Miranda waiver form
showing Mr. Wright's signature). Sergeant Hines also
testifies that Mr. Wright did not appear substantially
impaired or unable to understand any portion of the
interview. 2d Tr. 35:6-14 (testimony of Sergeant Hines).
During the interview, Mr. Wright refused to answer several
questions, including his home address and the names of some
of his associates. See 2d Tr. 35:18-21; Gov't
Ex. H-13. Nor was Mr. Wright physically threatened at any
time. See 2d Tr. 35:22-36:1; Gov't Ex. H-13.
initial indictment was filed on April 26, 2016, charging Mr.
Wright with one count of bank robbery in violation of 18
U.S.C. § 2231(a). 1st Indictment, ECF No. 3. Several
months later, on July 21, 2016, a superseding indictment was
filed charging Mr. Wright with three counts of bank robbery.
2d Indictment, ECF No. 9.
Wright asks the Court to “grant suppression of evidence
and statements made by the defendant.” Mot. Suppress at
6; see also 2d Mot. Suppress at 1 (requesting that
the Court “suppress . . . all statements allegedly made
by Mr. Wright to any government agent; tangible evidence
seized from Mr. Wright; and any other unlawfully seized
evidence, and fruits thereof”). The Court interprets
this request as both a motion to suppress some or all of the
physical evidence collected by law enforcement and a motion
to suppress the statements made Mr. Wright, and addresses
each in turn. The Court considers the motion in light of the
principle that the government bears the burden of justifying
a warrantless arrest or search. United States v.
Jones, 374 F.Supp.2d 143, 147 (D.D.C. 2005); see
also United States v. Jeffers, 342 U.S. 48, 51 (1951)
(“[T]he burden is on those seeking the exemption to
show the need for it[.]” (citation omitted));
United States v. Mangum, 100 F.3d 164, 169 (D.C.
Cir. 1996) (“The government carries the burden of
showing that the measures employed during the stop were
justified.”). In this case, the government does not
dispute that Mr. Wright was arrested without a warrant.
See, e.g., 1st Tr. 43-44 (testimony of Special Agent
Wright requests the “suppression of evidence, ”
Mot. Suppress at 6, apparently referring to some or all of
the physical evidence taken from his person on the day he was
arrested.See also Mot. Suppress at 4
(complaining of the “seizure of items from defendant .
. . by actions of officers in violation of the [F]ourth
[A]mendment”). The Court agrees with the government