June 23, 2016
from the Superior Court of the District of Columbia
(CF3-11836-13) (Hon. John McCabe, Trial Judge)
H. Pavlovic, Public Defender Service, with whom James Klein
and Mikel-Meredith Weidman, Public Defender Service, were on
the brief, for appellant.
Nicholas P. Coleman, Assistant United States Attorney, with
whom Vincent H. Cohen, Jr., Acting United States Attorney at
the time the brief was filed, and Elizabeth Trosman,
Assistant United States Attorney, were on the brief, for
Fisher and Beckwith, Associate Judges, and Steadman, Senior
Fisher, Associate Judge
Nathan Jackson appeals his convictions for assaulting and
robbing Corinthea Thompson. He primarily argues that the
trial court erred in denying his motion to suppress because
the police seized him for a show-up based on an
"anonymous" and "uncorroborated" tip
provided by the victim's mother. He also mounts a facial
challenge to the 2013 version of D.C. Code § 22-4504
(a), contending it violated the Second Amendment by banning
the carrying of pistols in public. We reject these arguments
and affirm his convictions.
at the suppression hearing showed that shortly after noon on
July 9, 2013, appellant Nathan Jackson approached Corinthea
Thompson as she was walking down the street and demanded,
"[g]ive up your shit." When she refused, appellant
struck her on the head with a "silver and black-colored
handgun," knocking her unconscious, before stealing her
watch and gold necklace. Officer Dion Smith arrived shortly
thereafter, as did the victim's mother, who spoke with
both her daughter and the officer. The victim told Officer
Smith that the robber was "a dark-complected, black
male," anywhere from five feet ten inches to six feet in
height, 150 to 160 pounds, "with dread locks" and a
forty-five minutes to an hour after the robbery, the
victim's mother, Shirley Thompson-Wright, called the
police "for a second sighting as to where the suspect
was in reference to her daughter's
robbery." Officer Stephen Chih, who "had heard
about the robbery," responded to the intersection of
35th and East Capitol Streets. When Officer Chih arrived, the
victim's mother was "cursing," "yelling[,]
and screaming," saying that "the suspect was up in
that apartment right now" and that if the police
"don't go in there, I'm going to go in there and
handle whatever I got to do." She provided the address
3425 East Capitol Street, apartment 301.
Chih asked the victim's mother, Ms. Thompson-Wright, to
calm down and to tell him "specifically what [wa]s going
on," because he had not yet learned the particulars of
the robbery (such as the victim's description of the
robber). Ms. Thompson-Wright explained when and where her
daughter had been robbed, and told him she had a picture of
the suspect. She then gave Officer Chih a photograph which
depicted a "[b]lack male, dark complected, with
dreadlocks." She also told him she had received the
photograph "from the neighborhood" but had not
witnessed the robbery. Officer Chih then requested
"other units to respond."
backup units arrived, Officer Chih left Ms. Thompson-Wright
with other officers and turned his attention to locating the
suspect. Accompanied by Officer Curt Bonney, he went up to
the third floor of the apartment building with the photograph
tucked in his uniform shirt and the understanding that
"[t]here was still a suspect outstanding with a
Joyce Lewis answered the officers' knock, they explained
that a crime of violence "had occurred earlier in the
day" and "that there was information that a
potential suspect was in her apartment." They asked
whether any males were in the apartment, and Ms. Lewis said
that only her son was there. Showing the photograph to Ms.
Lewis, Officer Chih asked if that was her son. She replied
that it was not, but did not indicate that she knew the
person in the photograph or tell the officers that he was
Lewis invited the officers inside, and her son Craig Lewis
came to the door. It was apparent to Officer Chih that Craig
Lewis was not the person in the photograph. The officers
requested Craig's identification and asked whether
anybody else was inside. Craig said his identification was
back in the bedroom, and Ms. Lewis and Craig indicated
"that there was . . . nobody else inside the
Craig to the bedroom, the officers were "surprised"
to find "two other subjects" inside – the
appellant and his brother, Rico Jackson. Appellant appeared
"[v]ery nervous," and was "[w]ide eyed, kind
of breathing a little bit heavy, constantly staring at his
brother, back and forth, making eye contact with his
brother." The brothers looked like each other and looked
like the photo. Noting that appellant's brother Rico had
a facial tattoo that was not depicted in the photograph,
however, Officer Chih focused on appellant as the primary
suspect. His suspicion solidified before the show-up
procedure, when Craig Lewis told him that Rico had spent the
night at the apartment, but appellant had just come in 15-20
minutes before the police arrived.
Chih told appellant not to make any sudden moves and asked
for identification. When appellant stated that his ID was in
his wallet in his back pocket, the officer told him to stand
up very slowly and remove it. Officer Chih also told
appellant he was going to "pat him down for any type of
weapons." The pat-down revealed no weapons, but Officer
Chih noticed a white, plastic bag directly underneath where
appellant had been sitting. Picking up the bag, Officer Chih
immediately could feel that it contained expended shell
atmosphere became "[v]ery tense," and based on
"the nature of the original crime," "the
demeanor of both Nathan and Rico Jackson being very
intense," and the fact that Ms. Thompson-Wright had
predicted the officers would find the robber there (despite
the Lewis's denials), Officer Chih alerted the other
officers that there was "potentially a gun in [the
investigating further, Officer Chih left the room "to
coordinate [a] show-up identification process" because
an eyewitness to the crime had been found.
(It seems that Ms. Thompson-Wright may have
told the police about the witness, Ms. Matthews, while
Officer Chih was upstairs with appellant.) Officers Lavern
Miller and Shaquinta Gaines remained in the room, but
appellant began acting suspiciously. Pretending to be tired,
he laid back and began reaching underneath the sheet at the
head of the bed. Officer Miller said, "I know what
you're doing. You need to stop moving and sit up right
now." Appellant complied. After Officer Chih took
appellant outside for the show-up, Officer Miller
"pulled back the sheet from where Nathan Jackson was
reaching" and found "a silver and black-colored
handgun . . . [with] six[, live] rounds in the
Ms. Matthews "immediately" identified appellant as
the "man who had the gun and was robbing the girl."
Officer Chih then arrested appellant; as he returned to the
apartment, he heard "a radio transmission"
revealing that Officer Miller had found the weapon. The
officers then obtained written consent to search the
apartment from both Joyce Lewis and Craig Lewis. That search
revealed the expended cartridge casings, the firearm and
ammunition, and clothing that matched the victim's
description of the robber's attire. The police did not
find Corinthea Thompson's watch or necklace.
January 29, 2014, appellant's trial commenced before the
Honorable John McCabe, and on February 7, 2014, the jury
found appellant guilty of armed robbery, assault with a
dangerous weapon ("ADW"), and other charges related
to the firearm and ammunition.
argues that the trial court should have granted his motion to
suppress the identification by the eyewitness and the
physical evidence found in the apartment because the police
did not have reasonable articulable suspicion to detain him.
He asserts that the information Ms. Thompson-Wright gave to
the police (1) "amounted to an anonymous tip"
because it was "attributed" to "the
neighborhood grapevine" and (2) was not sufficiently
Standard of Review
reviewing the denial of a motion to suppress, we "must
defer to the court's findings of evidentiary fact and
view those facts and the reasonable inferences therefrom in
the light most favorable to sustaining the ruling
below." Joseph v. United States, 926 A.2d 1156,
1160 (D.C. 2007). "The court's legal conclusions on
Fourth Amendment issues . . . are 'subject to de novo
review.'" Id. When conducting that de novo
review, however, we "give due weight to a trial
court's finding that the officer was credible and [that]
the inference [he drew] was reasonable." Ornelas v.
United States, 517 U.S. 690, 700 (1996).
Reliability of the Tip
touchstone of the Fourth Amendment is reasonableness . . .
measured in objective terms by evaluating the totality of the
circumstances." Goines v. United States, 964
A.2d 141, 144 (D.C. 2009) (internal quotation marks omitted).
"[I]n keeping with the Fourth Amendment,"
Howard v. United States, 929 A.2d 839, 845 (D.C.
2006) (internal quotation marks omitted), the police may
conduct a brief, investigatory stop of a suspect if they
"have [a] reasonable suspicion, grounded in specific and
articulable facts, that [the] person they encounter was
involved in or is wanted in connection with a completed
felony." United States v. Hensley, 469 U.S.
221, 229 (1985).
Reasonable suspicion is a less demanding standard than
probable cause not only in the sense that reasonable
suspicion can be established with information that is
different in quantity or content than that required to
establish probable cause, but also in the sense that
reasonable suspicion can arise from ...