United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Southeastern Division
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
CRITES-LEONI UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
matter was referred to the undersigned United States
Magistrate Judge pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b).
Defendant, Dalvin D. Lawrence, is charged with being a felon
in possession of a firearm. (Doc. 2.) Lawrence filed a Motion
to Suppress (Doc. 20) evidence and statements claiming that
he was unlawfully detained when officers seized evidence from
him. He alleges that it was unlawful for officers to order
him to sit down and then lie on the ground when he was
present during the arrest of another man. Lawrence claims
that he was detained by the officers “in the absence of
a warrant, probable cause, reasonable suspicion, or other
justification in violation of his rights under the Fourth
Amendment…” Id. at 1. He requests
suppression of the physical evidence seized from his person.
Lawrence also requests that any statements he made be
suppressed “as fruit of the unlawful search and
seizure.” Id. The Government filed a response
in opposition to the Defendant's claims. (Doc. 22.)
evidentiary hearing was held on May 10, 2017. Two officers
from the Sikeston Department of Public Safety testified. The
Government submitted two exhibits, including: a
video-recording of part of the interaction between the
officers and the men, and a photograph of the gun seized from
consideration of the evidence and information submitted by
the parties, the undersigned recommends that the following
findings of fact and conclusions of law be adopted and that
the Defendant's Motion to Suppress Evidence be denied.
Proposed Findings of Fact
February 1, 2017, Captain Andy Cooper of the Sikeston
Department of Public Safety was on routine patrol when he
observed Mario West driving a truck with two male passengers.
There was furniture in the truck bed along with one of the
men. Familiar with West, Captain Cooper checked to see if he
had any “wants or warrants.” Captain Cooper
learned that West did not have a current driver's license
and was wanted on two outstanding felony warrants.
thereafter, Captain Cooper saw West's truck parked at a
residence on Adam Street. The truck was backed into the
driveway and parked just outside of the carport. Cooper
called for backup and two officers quickly responded to the
scene, Officers Simmerman and Josh Golightly. West and two
other men, Lawrence and BJ Robinson, were near the carport of
Captain Cooper approached West and began talking about the
outstanding warrants, West became nervous. When Captain
Cooper directed West to put his hands behind his back, West
pushed away from Cooper and Officer Simmerman. The officers
struggled with West and had to secure him with force.
Golightly arrived around the time the struggle was underway.
He observed that Lawrence and Robinson appeared to be moving
closer to West and the officers. Officer Golightly was
uncertain about their intentions and directed the men to sit
down. The men followed Golightly's instruction and they
sat on the edge of the carport. Shortly thereafter, Officer
Golightly observed Robinson take something out of his pocket
and put it in his mouth. Golightly instructed Robinson and
Lawrence to lie down. Both men lay down. Officer Golightly
asked Robinson to spit out whatever was in his mouth.
Robinson spit out an item. Upon inspection, the officers
believed the item contained marijuana or K2 (synthetic
Officer Golightly was interacting with Robinson, Captain
Cooper approached Lawrence. Cooper was concerned about
Lawrence because he observed that Lawrence kept putting his
hands in his pockets. Cooper explained that if bystanders are
in close proximity to an arrest and they keep putting their
hands in their pockets, he always instructs the person to
take their hands out.
Golightly was wearing a body camera while on duty that day. He
turned it on shortly after instructing Robinson to spit out
what was in his mouth. Around that time, the following
exchange can be heard:
Cooper: Shut up! God d, ya. Take your f hands out of your
Golightly: [To Robinson:] Roll over.
Lawrence: Well, I'm gonna be one hundred with you.
Cooper: No you won't.
Lawrence: There's a pistol in my pocket