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State v. Strong

Court of Appeals of Missouri, Eastern District, Third Division

April 7, 2015

STATE OF MISSOURI, Appellant,
v.
SHALIMAR STRONG, Respondent

Appeal from the Circuit Court of the City of St. Louis. 1422-CR02312-01. Honorable Thomas J. Frawley.

Matthew Martin, St. Louis, MO, for appellant.

Chad M. Oliver, St. Louis, MO, for respondent.

Gary M. Gaertner, Jr., Judge. Kurt S. Odenwald. P. J., concurs. Robert G. Dowd, Jr., J., concurs.

OPINION

Page 222

Gary M. Gaertner, Jr., Judge

Introduction

This is an interlocutory appeal in which the State of Missouri (State) appeals the trial court's grant of Shalimar Strong's (Defendant) motion to suppress evidence of a gun seized by police officers from Strong. The State argues that the trial court erred in suppressing the evidence because officers seized the gun during a lawful detention. We reverse.

Background

The State charged Defendant with unlawful use of a weapon (Count I) and unlawful possession of a firearm by a person who has been convicted of a felony (Count

Page 223

II), both of which arose after police found a gun in Defendant's pocket during a pat-down search. Prior to trial, Defendant filed a motion to suppress evidence of the gun, arguing that police unlawfully detained Defendant and conducted the search without reasonable suspicion of criminal activity. The trial court held a hearing on Defendant's motion to suppress, and later a bench trial, during which it heard the following evidence.

On June 14, 2014, Officers Ryan Buscemi (Officer Buscemi) and Edward Gonzales (Officer Gonzales) were in uniform and on patrol in a marked police car in the Dutchtown and Gravois Park neighborhoods. Raymond Fields (Fields) was driving his car and pulled alongside the officers. Fields stated that his nephew told him that a man wearing a white tank top and blue jean shorts in the 3300 block of Keokuk had raised his shirt and shown a pistol sticking out of his pants to Fields's nephew and several other children. Officer Buscemi testified that he and Officer Gonzales decided to investigate because " information of somebody in possession of a firearm, especially in these neighborhoods, is very serious. We have a lot of gang activity, we have a lot of violent crime, robberies, so we take it very seriously when we're advised of somebody walking around with a firearm on their person."

When the officers arrived at 3300 Keokuk, they saw a man sitting on the steps wearing a white tank top and blue jean shorts, who they later identified as Defendant. As Officer Buscemi approached Defendant to conduct a field interview, Defendant's hand fell to the front right side by his pants pocket, " like he was concealing something or grabbing something that was right there." Officer Buscemi testified that based on the information they had received from Fields and Defendant's hand movement toward his pocket, he " had reason to believe [Defendant] had a firearm on his person." Officer Gonzales testified at trial that from his vantage point, when Defendant stood up, Officer Gonzales saw the handle of a gun in Defendant's right front pocket. Officer ...


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