United States District Court, W.D. Missouri, Western Division
ORDER ADOPTING MAGISTRATE JUDGE’S REPORT AND
PHILLIPS, CHIEF JUDGE.
is Defendant’s motion to suppress statements and
evidence. (Docs. 32.) On August 2, 2019, the Honorable Lajuana
M. Counts, Magistrate Judge for this District, issued a
Report recommending that “the portion of the motion
seeking the suppression of a statement defendant made at the
scene, which statement was made in response to questioning
initiated by a law enforcement officer, be granted. The
remainder of the motion should be denied.” (Doc. 61, p.
The Government has “agree[d] not to solicit and use
such statement in its case-in-chief at trial” and
recommends the Court adopt the Report and Recommendation.
(Doc. 63.) Defendant objects to the Report and Recommendation
to the extent it recommends denying his motion. (Doc. 64.) On
de novo review, the Court adopts Judge Counts’ Report
and Recommendation in its entirety. Thus, Defendant’s
motion to suppress the statement Defendant made at the scene
is GRANTED. The remainder of the motion is
Court adopts the Report in its entirety, including its
recommended findings of fact. In summary, on March 9, 2017,
Detective John Pickens of the Kansas City, Missouri Police
Department was on duty at the Greyhound Bus Station in Kansas
City, Missouri. (Doc. 61, p. 2.) Detectives Aaron Hendershot,
Yale Acton, Brian Ruch, and Molly Mast were also on duty.
(Id.) Detective Pickens observed a bus, which he
believed originated in El Paso, Texas, arrive at the
Greyhound Bus Station. (Id.) Detective Pickens
observed a passenger (later identified as Defendant) exiting
the bus who appeared to be observing a police K-9 conducting
sniffs of the luggage stowed in the lower unit of the bus.
(Id. at p. 3.) Defendant exited the bus carrying a
backpack and a suitcase and walked away from the bus directly
into the terminal. (Id.) Detective Pickens and
Detective Hendershot testified that Defendant’s
behavior was abnormal because most passengers carry a
backpack or small personal item on the bus and stow luggage
in the compartment under the bus. (Id.) Detective
Pickens also testified that most passengers lingered around
the bus after exiting instead of beelining away from the bus
immediately. (Id.) Detective Pickens testified that
his attention was drawn to Defendant because it appeared
Defendant was trying to distance himself from the police K-9.
Defendant entered the terminal, he appeared to notice
Detective Pickens and his partner. (Id.) Detective
Pickens testified that Defendant looked nervous.
(Id.) Defendant then set his bags down, walked to
the far end of the terminal, looked over his shoulder, and
then immediately returned to retrieve his bags.
(Id.) Detective Pickens testified that Defendant was
shifting his eyes and looking around the terminal as if he
was being watched or followed. (Id. at p. 4.)
Defendant then walked towards the exit doors, near where
Detective Pickens was standing. (Id.) Detective
Pickens approached Defendant, identified himself as a police
officer, asked if he could speak to Defendant, and Defendant
agreed to speak with him. (Id.) Detective Pickens
asked where Defendant was traveling from and Defendant
responded that he was coming from Denver, Colorado.
(Id.) Detective Pickens found this response
suspicious since he believed the bus Defendant had just
exited originated in Texas and did not pass through Denver.
(Id.) Detective Pickens asked to see
Defendant’s bus ticket; Defendant provided the ticket,
which stated that his trip originated in Indio, California.
(Id. at p. 5.) Detective Pickens testified that
during this conversation, Defendant appeared visibly nervous,
his hands were trembling uncontrollably, and his voice was
Detective Pickens was reviewing Defendant’s ticket,
Detective Pickens dropped Defendant’s re-boarding pass.
(Id.) While Detective Pickens bent down to pick up
the re-boarding pass, Defendant dropped his suitcase and
attempted to flee out of the front doors of the terminal,
which led to Kansas City and not to any buses. (Id.)
Detective Pickens testified that at this moment, based on the
totality of the circumstances, he believed that Defendant was
involved in some sort of criminal activity. (Id.)
Detective Pickens ordered Defendant to stop, but Defendant
did not comply. (Id.) Instead, Defendant knocked
Detective Ruch into a doorframe in his attempt to get away.
(Id.) Detective Pickens and Detective Hendershot
then stopped Defendant and struggled with him on the ground
for several moments. (Id.) One of the officers
eventually placed Defendant in handcuffs. (Id.)
Detective Pickens helped Defendant – who was now
handcuffed – to stand up, Detective Pickens asked
Defendant why he tried to flee. (Id.) Detective
Pickens testified that he responded, “Because I have
meth in my bag.” (Id.) Defendant was then
escorted to an office in the rear of the Greyhound Bus
Station. (Id.) Detective Pickens asked to search
Defendant’s bag, but Defendant refused and requested a
lawyer. (Id.) Detective Pickens then asked Detective
Acton to conduct a K-9 sniff check on Defendant’s bags,
which were placed among similar luggage in the rear of the
Greyhound Bus Station. (Id.) The K-9 alerted to both
of Defendant’s bags. (Id.) At that point,
Detective Pickens told Defendant he was under arrest and read
Defendant his Miranda rights. (Id.)
Defendant again requested a lawyer. (Id.) Detective
Pickens testified that after this point, Defendant was not
questioned further by any of the officers. (Id. at
Pickens applied for a search warrant in the Jackson County,
Missouri Circuit Court. (Id. at p. 7.) The
application included all of the facts outlined above in
greater detail. (Id. at pp. 7–8.) Detective
Pickens obtained a search warrant at approximately 1:00 p.m.
on March 9, 2017. (Id. at 9.) After obtaining the
warrant, Detective Pickens searched Defendant’s bags
and found two bundles of methamphetamine. (Id.)
pending is Defendant’s motion to suppress (1) the
statement “Because I have meth in my bag” and (2)
the methamphetamine found in Defendant’s bags. (Doc.
32.) The government opposes the motion. (Docs. 37, 58.) The
Court resolves the parties’ arguments below.
argues that his rights were violated in several respects.
(See Doc. 57, p. 7.) The Court will address each
argument in turn. First, Defendant claims that the officers
lacked reasonable suspicion to detain Mr. Rodriguez and that
the officers profiled Defendant as a drug courier based on
his ethnicity. The Court disagrees. As an initial matter, the
Court agrees with Judge Counts that Detective Pickens did not
need any justification to initiate a consensual conversation
with Defendant. (See Doc. 61, pp. 12–15;
see also Fla. v. Royer, 460 U.S. 491, 497 (1983)
(“[L]aw enforcement officers do not violate the Fourth
Amendment by merely approaching an individual on the street
or in another public place, by asking him if he is willing to
answer some questions . . .”); United States v.
Hernandez, 854 F.2d 295, 297 (8th Cir. 1988).)
Court also agrees that Defendant was not “seized”
for the purposes of the Fourth Amendment until he attempted
to flee and Detective Pickens ordered him to stop. (Doc. 61,
pp. 10–12; see also Hernandez, 854 F.2d at 297
(“An initially consensual encounter is transformed into
a seizure when, considering all of the circumstances, a
reasonable person would believe that he is not free to
leave.”)) “A brief investigatory stop is
permissible under the Fourth Amendment if the officer has a
reasonable suspicion supported by articulable facts that
criminal activity may be afoot.” United States v.
Montgomery, 828 F.3d 741, 743–44 (8th Cir. 2016)
(citing United States v. Sokolow, 490 U.S. 1, 7
(1989)) (quoting Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1, 30
(1968)) (cleaned up). “In determining whether an
officer has reasonable suspicion, we must look at the
totality of the circumstances of each case to see whether the
detaining officer has a particularized and objective basis
for suspecting legal wrongdoing.” Id. (citing
United States v. Arvizu, 534 U.S. 266, 273 (2002))
(quoting United States v. Cortez, 449 U.S. 411,
417–18 (1981)) (quotations omitted).
“Additionally, officers are permitted to draw on their
own experience and specialized training to make inferences
from and deductions about the cumulative information
available to them that might well elude an untrained
person.” Id. (cleaned up).
case, the evidence indicates that:
• Detective Pickens believed that Defendant exited a bus
originating from Texas, which is a known source ...