United States District Court, District of Columbia
MEMORANDUM OF FINDINGS OF FACT AND STATEMENT OF
REASONS IN SUPPORT OF ORDER OF PRETRIAL DETENTION
ROYCEC. LAMBERTH United States District Court
Butch Alexander is charged in a four-count indictment that
features one count of Unlawful Possession with Intent to
Distribute 28 Grams or More of Cocaine Base, in violation of
21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1) and 841(b)(1)(B)(iii); one count
of Unlawful Possession with Intent to Distribute Cocaine, in
violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841 (a)(1) and 841 (b)(1)(C);
one count of Unlawful Possession of a Firearm and Ammunition
by a Person Convicted of Crime Punishable by Imprisonment for
a Term Exceeding One Year, in violation of Title 18 U.S.C.
§ 922(g)(1); and one count of Using, Carrying, and
Possessing a Firearm During a Drug Trafficking Offense, in
violation of Title 18 U.S.C. § 924(c)(1). The indictment
also includes a criminal forfeiture allegation for $1, 656,
pursuant to 21 U.S.C. § 853(a), if convicted of either
Count One or Count Two; and another for certain guns and
ammunition, pursuant to 18 USC § 924(d) and 28 U.S.C.
§ 2461(c), if convicted of either Count Three or Count
arraignment on August 9, 2017, the Government made an oral
motion for temporary detention of Mr. Alexander. The Court
granted the motion for a three-day hold and set a detention
hearing for August 14. This Court held the detention hearing
on that date. Upon consideration of the Government's
Memorandum for Pretrial Detention  and the oral
representations of both parties at the detention hearing, Mr.
Alexander was ordered held without bond pursuant to 18 U.S.C.
§ 3142(f)(1), subsections (C), (D), and (E). The
findings of fact and statement of reasons in support of the
Order of Detention are set forth below.
Bail Reform Act, 18 U.S.C. § 3141 etseq.,
provides that a defendant may be detained pending judicial
proceedings where the government carries its burden of
establishing that "no condition or combination of
conditions will reasonably assure the appearance of the
person as required and the safety of any other person and the
community." Id. at § 3142(e), (f). The
government must first establish one of the predicates: (1)
that, beyond a preponderance of the evidence, defendant poses
a risk of flight, United States v. Xulam, 84 F.3d
441, 443 (D.C. Cir. 1996); or (2) that, by clear and
convincing evidence, defendant has been shown to pose a risk
to the safety of any person or the community. 18 U.S.C.
§ 3142(f); United States v. Peralta, 849 F.2d
625, 626 (D.C. Cir. 1988). The Court must then determine that
the same evidence leads to the conclusion that no condition
or conditions of release will reasonably protect against the
risk that has been found.
determining whether the release of the defendant would
endanger the community, the court must consider any available
information concerning  the nature and circumstances of
the offense charged, including whether the offense is a crime
of violence or involves a narcotic drug;  the weight of
the evidence against the person;  various personal
information including character, employment, past conduct,
and so on; and  the nature and seriousness of the danger
to any person or the community that would be posed by the
person's release." United States v. Smith,
79 F.3d 1208, 1209 (D.C. Cir. 1996) (internal quotations
omitted) (citing 18 U.S.C. § 3142(g)).
is a presumption that a defendant should be detained before
trial if the court finds probable cause to believe that a
defendant committed "an offense for which a maximum term
of imprisonment is ten years or more [as] prescribed in the
Controlled Substances Act, " or an offense under 18
U.S.C. § 924(c). 18 U.S.C. § 3142(e)(3). The Court
"may rely on a grand jury indictment to establish
probable cause for the purposes of triggering the rebuttable
presumption of section 3142(e)." United States v.
Williams, 903 F.2d 844 (D.C. Cir. 1990). The court will
"presume that no condition or combination of
conditions will reasonably assure the appearance of the
person as required and the safety of the community."
Id. § 3142(e)(3). A defendant may rebut this
presumption if he offers "credible evidence" to the
contrary. Id.; United States v. Alatishe, 768 F.2d
364, 371 (D.C. Cir. 1985).
grand jury's indictment, "fair upon its face, "
furnishes probable cause to believe that the Mr. Powell
committed the acts that constitute this offense. See
Gerstein v. Pugh, 420 U.S. 103, 117 n.19 (1975);
Williams, 903 F.2d 844. This creates a presumption
of pretrial detention.
Government proffers that Mr. Alexander was arrested by police
officers responding to a call reporting a man, matching Mr.
Alexander's description, in a red Mustang, carrying a
gun. Officers found Mr. Alexander sleeping alone in his car
(a red Mustang, registered to Mr. Alexander) near the
location the caller indicated the suspect would be. Officers
spotted what appeared to be illegal narcotics in the vehicle,
and requested a gun recovery dog, who alerted at the rear of
the vehicle, and then in the console area of the car.
Officers recovered a loaded Smith & Wesson .40 caliber
handgun from in between the driver's seat and center
console of the vehicle, along with several bags of drugs, a
digital scale, several individual plastic zip-lock bags, and
approximately $1, 656.00 in cash elsewhere in the car. The
officers' entire interaction with Mr. Alexander, and
subsequent search of his car, were recorded on video, with
audio, on cameras worn by the responding officers. Mr.
Alexander has a history of criminal conduct, including
multiple felony convictions related to the distribution of
cocaine in multiple jurisdictions, and was arrested while on
pre-trial release in separate matters stemming from charges
in two different jurisdictions.
response, Mr. Alexander argues that there is no evidence he
knew the contents of the car, that he was cooperative with
the police officers at the scene, that he did not brandish
the weapon that was found in the vehicle, and that, in the
two months since his arrest, the government has failed to
develop any forensic evidence tying him to the gun or the
drugs found in the car. The government has not produced the
body-camera video of the events leading up to Mr.
Alexander's arrest, which could present grounds for a
motion to suppress the evidence recovered at the scene.
Further, the photographs the government attached as exhibits
to its memorandum in support of pre-trial detention do not
show the location in the car where the items were supposedly
found. The defense argued that the defendant lives with his
mother approximately five blocks from the courthouse, and
that the Court could fashion conditions, including a curfew
and weekly reporting to pre-trial services, which would
ensure the defendant's presence for trial.
FINDINGS OF FACT
consideration of the factors enumerated at § 3142(g) of
the Bail Reform Act, the Court finds by clear and convincing
evidence that Mr. Alexander has been shown to pose
a risk to the safety of the community, and no condition or
conditions of release would reasonably protect against that
risk. First, the Court finds that the nature and
circumstances of the offenses clearly indicate that Mr.
Alexander possessed large quantities of dangerous illegal
narcotics in the D.C. area, as well as materials used to
distribute them. The drugs were found in Mr. Alexander's
own car, in which he was sitting by himself; no evidence on
the record suggests they may have belonged to anyone else.
Second, the strength of the evidence against Mr. Alexander,
which includes drug residue on the recovered digital scale,
and video recordings of the arresting officers'
interaction with Mr. Alexander and their search of his
vehicle, is quite strong. Third, the Court finds that Mr.
Alexander's release would pose a serious danger to the
community. The sale of narcotics (which also necessitates the
coming into possession of narcotics as a precondition) is an
inherently dangerous activity, and Mr. Alexander poses a
danger to the community through his cocaine distribution. The
fact that Mr. Alexander was armed with a loaded .40 caliber
handgun while possessing drugs for distribution and a large
amount of cash further underscores his danger to the
community. The gun was found unsecured and directly next to
Mr. Alexander's seat in his vehicle, well within reach.
Further, Mr. Alexander's being otherwise unemployed, and
his history of convictions for selling drugs indicate that
drug sales are his primary means of income. Finally, Mr.
Alexander's criminal history ...