United States District Court, District of Columbia
COLLEEN KOLLAR-KOTELLY UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
criminal action, Defendant Francis Bankins is charged with
Unlawful Possession of a Firearm and Ammunition by a Person
Convicted of a Crime Punishable by Imprisonment for a Term
Exceeding One Year in violation of 18 U.S.C. §
922(g)(1). Defendant has moved to suppress as evidence any
and all tangible physical evidence seized by law enforcement
officers on June 11, 2018. Defendant argues that such
evidence was seized in violation of the Fourth Amendment.
Specifically, Defendant moves to suppress the recovery of a
loaded firearm which was found in his right pocket during the
allegedly unconstitutional search. Accordingly, the Court
must determine whether or not the loaded firearm seized from
Defendant was seized in violation of the Fourth Amendment. If
such evidence was unconstitutionally seized, the it must be
consideration of the pleadings,  the relevant legal
authorities, and the record as a whole, the Court DENIES
Defendant's Motion to Suppress. The Court concludes that
the Fourth Amendment was not violated when a law enforcement
officer seized the loaded firearm from Defendant because the
officer conducting the search had a reasonable articulable
suspicion that Defendant was armed and dangerous.
FINDINGS OF FACT
Court held an evidentiary hearing on Defendant's motion
to suppress on April 4, 2019. The Court has considered the
evidence presented during the hearing. In doing so, the Court
considered the demeanor and behavior of the witness on the
stand, the witness's manner of testifying, whether the
witness impressed the Court as truthful, whether the witness
impressed the Court as having an accurate memory and
recollection, whether the witness had any motive for not
telling the truth, whether the witness had a full opportunity
to observe the matters about which he testified, and whether
the witness had any interest in the outcome of the case, or
friendship or hostility to the other persons concerned with
the case. The Court also considered the reasonableness or
unreasonableness and the probability or improbability of the
testimony of the witness in determining whether to accept it
as true and accurate, as well as whether the testimony was
contradicted or supported by other credible evidence. The
Court has also considered the pleadings, the footage from
officers' body-worn cameras, and the entire record in
Court credits the testimony of the only witness, Officer
Brock Vigil, as follows.
Court makes the following findings of fact. The Court will
first make findings of fact that are relevant to the
Defendant's motion and undisputed and/or uncontroverted
by any evidence, and then make findings as to facts that are
relevant and disputed or controverted by some evidence.
The Undisputed or Uncontroverted Relevant Evidence
only witness at the evidentiary hearing, Officer Vigil, has
worked for the Metropolitan Police Department for just under
17 years. April 4, 2019 Hr'g Tr. 8: 15. For approximately
three years he has been assigned to the narcotics enforcement
unit which primarily focuses on street-level undercover drug
operations. Id. at 8: 17-25.
11, 2018, Officer Vigil was on duty, driving in an unmarked
law enforcement vehicle with his partner Officer Joseph
Harkins. Id. at 10: 3-4. Officer Vigil was wearing a
body-worn camera located at the lower-part of the center of
his chest, which he activated when conducting official
business. Id. at 10: 16-17, 12: 1-3. Because the
body-worn camera focuses only straight ahead and is lower
than Officer Vigil's sight-line, the camera does not
capture everything that Officer Vigil sees. Id. at
103: 7-19. His fellow officers were also wearing body-worn
cameras. Id. at 12: 6-8.
approximately 5:00 p.m., Officer Vigil and Officer Harkins
were called to assist at the 3100 block of Naylor Road
Southeast in the District of Columbia. Id. at 12:
16-19. Another police vehicle, which was in front of Officer
Vigil's vehicle, was operated by Officer Dominique Tyson,
with Officers Travis Collins and James Love accompanying him.
Id. at 12: 21-24. Officer Vigil observed Officer
Tyson stop his vehicle and activate its emergency lights.
Id. at 13: 1-4. So, Officer Vigil and Officer
Harkins also stopped their vehicle and activated their
emergency lights. Id. at 13: 5-7. Officer Vigil was
notified that Officer Tyson had stopped a vehicle for a
window tint violation. Id. at 13: 12. Prior to
exiting the vehicle, Officer Vigil activated his body-worn
camera. Id. at 14: 5-8.
Officer Vigil exited his vehicle, he approached the
passenger's side of the stopped vehicle. Defendant was in
the front seat on the passenger side. Id. at 14:
15-17. Officer Vigil observed Officer Tyson, who had
initiated the stop, interacting with Defendant. Id.
at 14: 17-19. Officer Tyson asked Defendant to step out of
the vehicle. Id. at 14: 23-25.
some initial reluctance, Defendant eventually exited the
vehicle. Id. at 15: 8-11. At this time, Officer
Vigil was standing a foot or two back from the passenger-side
door. Id. at 15: 12-16.
stepping out of the vehicle, Defendant was wearing a long,
dark jacket. The length of the jacket was approximately to
Defendant's knees and was zipped up. Id. at 92:
13. The jacket had large zippered pockets with vertical
openings which were located on the left and right sides of
the jacket. See Gov.'s Ex. 2. In the back of
Defendant's jacket, there was a split positioned
vertically from the bottom of the jacket up to the lower part
of Defendant's back. April 4, 2019 Hr'g Tr. 26:
Defendant stepped out of the car, he dropped his
identification card. Id. at 16: 14-15. Defendant
bent down to retrieve his card. Id. After getting
his card, Defendant stood back up. Id. at 16: 23.
Officer Tyson directed Defendant to step back, maybe a foot
or two, towards the rear of the car closer to where Officer
Vigil was standing. Id. at 16: 24-25. At this time,
Officer Vigil asked Defendant if he had a firearm and
Defendant replied that he did not. Id. at 17: 8-9.
parties dispute what Officer Vigil observed after Defendant
stepped out of the vehicle. Accordingly, Officer Vigil's
observations will be discussed below in the section on
disputed or controverted evidence. However, the parties agree
that, after asking Defendant if he had a firearm, Officer
Vigil patted-down Defendant, finding what Officer Vigil
believed to be a firearm in Defendant's right pocket.
Id. at 20: 9-12. Officer Vigil immediately
handcuffed Defendant and an officer recovered the loaded
firearm from Defendant's pocket. Id. at 20:
14-19. The recovered loaded firearm was a .357, which is
heavier than most guns because it is made out of solid metal
and is big-barreled. Id. at 20: 23-25; see
also Gov.'s Exs. 4-5.
The Disputed or ...