CRIMINAL: Reasonable suspicion of criminal activity found under totality of circumstances: STONE V. COM. (COA 2/8/2008)

STONE V. COM.
CRIMINAL:  Reasonable suspicion of criminal activity found under totality of circumstances
2006-CA-002569
PUBLISHED: REVERSING AND REMANDING
PANEL: TAYLOR PRESIDING JUDGE; COMBS, NICKELL CONCUR
COUNTY: JEFFERSON
DATE RENDERED: 2/08/2008

CA held TC erred by denying Stone’s motion to suppress evidence gathered as a result of his seizure. Considering the totality of the circumstances, the officers did not possess reasonable suspicion of criminal activity necessary to justify Stone’s seizure.

It is uncontroverted that Stone was seated in a legally parked vehicle in front of an apartment building around 8:30 p.m. According to the officer’s testimony, they observed Stone in his motor vehicle parked in front of an apartment complex for a period of minutes. The vehicle’s engine was not running, and the brake lights were illuminated. Stone was violating no law at that time. The apartment complex was located in a high crime area, but the officers did not observe anyone approach Stone’s vehicle. The officers then decided to investigate and parked their police cruisers so as to block Stone’s vehicle. Shortly thereafter, Stone attempted to exit his vehicle but was ordered to return to the vehicle. The undisputed facts indicated that both officers parked their police cruisers directly behind Stone’s motor vehicle. With the positioning of these cruisers, Stone’s motor vehicle was effectively blocked in its parking space. Shortly after the police cruisers parked behind his vehicle, Stone then attempted to exit the vehicle but was ordered to return to the vehicle by Officer Green. Considering these undisputed facts, CA concluded that Stone was “seized” at this time. With his vehicle blocked by police cruisers and upon being ordered by the police back into his vehicle, CA believed that a reasonable person would not feel free to leave at this point.

Digested by Scott C. Byrd
www.OlginandByrd.com

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