United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM, AND REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION OF UNITED
STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
C. Collins United States Magistrate Judge.
matter was referred to the undersigned United States
Magistrate Judge pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b).
filed a Motion to Suppress Statements (Doc. No. 42) and he
also made an oral request for an Order suppressing all
evidence that was seized. The government filed its response (Doc
No. 44). Based on the evidence and testimony adduced, as well
as a review of the transcript of the hearing held in this
matter; and having had an opportunity to evaluate the
credibility of the witness presented and to observe his
behavior, the undersigned makes the following finds of fact
and conclusions of law.
February 7, 2017, St. Louis County Police Detective Kevin
Trott, who was working as a uniformed patrolman for his
police department on this date, stopped a vehicle traveling
past him on Torii Drive. The street is a U-shaped two-way
drive at an apartment complex.
a clear afternoon at around noon when Det. Trott saw a gray
Dodge Charger directly to the left of his patrol vehicle
travel past him on the driver's side within several feet,
heading in the direction of northbound Hanley Road. He
observed that the vehicle's license plates were expired
with a 2016 sticker. The state-issued vehicle sticker is
approximately 2 inches in size.
Trott made a U-turn to follow the Dodge out of the apartment
complex, and he conducted a records check on his in-car
computer of the license plate. He determined that the expired
license plates on the Dodge Charger were registered to a
Toyota. Det. Trott turned on the lights of his marked patrol
car and conducted a traffic stop north of I-70 near Evans
Trott approached the vehicle from behind and saw three male
occupants seated inside. There was a front-seat passenger and
a rear-seat passenger in addition to the driver. The windows
of the car were open. Det. Trott saw the rear passenger,
seated behind the driver, lean down toward the floorboard and
move his arms. He saw the passenger's right shoulder dip
for two to three seconds. The front-seat passenger, who was
later identified as defendant Laron Hutchins, made a similar
lean toward the floorboard. Det. Trott was concerned for his
safety because he did not know whether the passengers were
concealing something on the floorboard or underneath the
Trott saw a handgun underneath the back of the driver's
seat. He asked the rear-seat passenger whether there were
weapons in the car. Det. Trott also smelled marijuana coming
from the vehicle and he asked the driver about the smell. The
driver told him that the occupants just finished smoking.
Det. Trott obtained pedigree information from the driver and
while they talked, he saw the rear passenger continue to
shove his feet underneath the driver's seat. Det. Trott
told him to stop and the rear passenger complied. Det. Trott
then walked around the front of the vehicle to talk to the
front passenger. Around this time, Officer
Hollocher with the St. Louis County police arrived
to assist him.
Trott asked the front-seat passenger for his pedigree
information, including a name. The passenger stated that his
name was Michael Moreland. Det. Trott noticed that the
passenger spoke nervously, and stuttered over his words. The
front passenger could not remember his social security number
or his age. Det. Trott also saw a large, extended magazine
clip attached to a silver handgun that was partially visible
underneath the front seat. He was aware that such clips hold
a large capacity of ammunition. Det. Trott asked again
whether there were firearms in the Dodge. The front passenger
said no and looked down at the floorboard and shifted the
butt of the magazine with his right heel toward the rear of
the vehicle underneath the passenger seat. In Det.
Trott's experience, lawful possessors of firearms
typically do not make furtive movements when asked about
firearms in a vehicle, and they disclose that those firearms
are present. Det. Trott had ten years of experience as a
police officer when these events occurred.
Trott reported what he observed to Officer Hollocher, who had
parked his vehicle behind Det. Trott's patrol car on the
side of Hanley Road, and Officer Hollocher stood near the
rear of the Dodge. Det. Trott went to his vehicle to run
record checks on the names of the occupants. The driver had
several traffic warrants. The rear passenger was on probation
and had a felony conviction. There were
“negative” computer search results for Michael
Moreland, the name given by the front-seat passenger.
Trott returned the Dodge and asked the driver to step out of
the vehicle. The driver was arrested and handcuffed. The
driver was secured near Officer Hollocher. Next, Det. Trott
had the front-seat passenger exit the Dodge and he consented
to a pat-down search of his person. No items of evidence were
found. The backseat passenger also consented to a search of
his person and no items of evidence were found.
passenger was handcuffed as they stood with their backs
against the Dodge and were watched by Officer Hollocher after
the pat-down searches.
Trott began to search the Dodge upon obtaining consent from
the driver and because he smelled marijuana when he
approached the vehicle. The driver did not appear to be
impaired by drugs during the traffic stop. Det. Trott found a