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State v. Carr

Court of Appeals of Missouri, Western District, First Division

September 9, 2014

STATE OF MISSOURI, Appellant,
v.
NICHOLAS CARR, Respondent

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Jackson County, Missouri. The Honorable Kathleen A. Forsyth, Judge.

For Appellant: Chris Koster, Attorney General, Todd T. Smith, Assistant Attorney General, Jefferson City, MO.

For Respondent: Damien de Loyola, Assistant Appellate Defender, Kansas City, MO.

Lisa White Hardwick and Karen King Mitchell, Judges, concur.

OPINION

Mark D. Pfeiffer, Presiding Judge.

Page 167

The State of Missouri appeals the suppression ruling of the Circuit Court of Jackson County, Missouri (" trial court" ), granting Nicholas R. Carr's (" Carr" ) motion to suppress evidence and statements. In this interlocutory appeal,[1] the question presented is whether a police officer's act of approaching an individual to speak with the individual constitutes a Terry [2] stop implicating the Fourth Amendment. We conclude that under the undisputed factual circumstances of this case, it does not. Accordingly, we reverse the trial court's suppression ruling and remand for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

Factual and Procedural Background

On August 31, 2012, Officer Brian Karman (" the Officer" ) was patrolling a neighborhood in east Kansas City. It was raining, and there was not much pedestrian

Page 168

traffic on the residential street. The Officer noticed a young man in a red shirt walking down the street. This individual was subsequently identified as Carr. Shortly thereafter, pursuant to an anonymous tip, the Officer determined he should speak with Carr. The Officer turned his patrol car around and spotted Carr on foot on the sidewalk. The Officer exited his patrol car and, when he was approximately ten to fifteen yards from Carr, the Officer stated to Carr, " I need to talk to you." At this point, Carr dropped or threw down the hat he had been holding in his hands and turned away from the Officer while reaching his hands toward his hip area or waistband. Believing that Carr was trying to draw a weapon, the Officer drew his own service weapon, closed the distance between himself and Carr, and yelled at him repeatedly to " Show me your hand." Carr began to back-pedal and tried to run; but the Officer grabbed him, forced him to the ground, secured his hands with flex cuffs, and discovered a .380 semiautomatic handgun under Carr's shirt. Carr was arrested and was later charged with one count of the class D felony of unlawful use of a weapon.

Carr filed a motion to suppress all evidence relating to the Officer's encounter with Carr, and the trial court held a hearing on the motion. The Officer was the only one to testify at the suppression hearing. The trial court ruled on the motion from the bench, stating, " I think [the case of Florida v. J.L., 529 U.S. 266, 120 S.Ct. 1375, 146 L.Ed.2d 254 (2000)][3] addresses--in fact it says in the first paragraph that an anonymous tip lacks sufficient indicia of reliability to establish a Terry investigatory stop and I think that is the issue here." The trial court went on, " I don't have a problem with the Officer's search once Mr. Carr was stopped; however, I do have a problem with the stop itself, so I'm going to sustain the motion to suppress." The State filed the present interlocutory appeal.

Standard of Review

At a hearing on a motion to suppress, the State has the burden of justifying a warrantless search and seizure. State v. Deck, 994 S.W.2d 527, 534 (Mo. banc 1999). We will reverse a trial court's ruling on a motion to suppress only if it is clearly erroneous. State v. Rowe, 67 S.W.3d 649, 654 (Mo. App. W.D. 2002). " In reviewing a trial court's ruling on a motion to suppress, the facts and any reasonable inferences arising therefrom are to be viewed in a light most favorable to the ruling of the trial court." Id. (internal quotation omitted). " While we must defer to the trial court's factual findings and credibility determinations in ruling on the motion to suppress, we review questions of law de novo." Id. The ...


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