United States District Court, W.D. Missouri, Western Division
ORDER AND OPINION (1) ADOPTING MAGISTRATE JUDGE'S
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION AND (2) DENYING DEFENDANT'S
MOTION TO SUPPRESS
PHILLIPS, UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT CHIEF JUDGE
Rashidi Crosdale has been charged in an Indictment with being
a felon in possession of seven firearms. He filed a Motion to
Suppress, (Doc. 47), contending that evidence and statements
should be suppressed because his initial stop by the police
was not supported by reasonable suspicion. The Honorable John
T. Maughmer, United States Magistrate Judge for this
District, held a hearing on July 31, 2019, and he issued a
Report recommending that the Motion to Suppress be denied.
(Doc. 75.) Both Defendant and the Government object to Judge
Maughmer's Report and Recommendation (“the
Court has conducted a de novo review as required by 28 U.S.C.
§ 636(b)(1), and has reviewed the parties'
submissions before the hearing, the transcript from the
hearing, the exhibits admitted during the hearing, and the
parties' objections. The Court now adopts the Report as
the Order of the Court and denies the Motion to Suppress; the
Court's discussion is intended to augment, not supplant,
the Report's recommended findings and conclusions.
about January 4, 2018, two individuals made a report with the
Kansas City (Missouri) Police Department,
(“KCPD”), reporting that three armed, black males
had robbed their house in December 2017 and took over the
residence. On January 5, 2018, Sergeant Andrew Dorothy read
that report. He drove past the house in question and observed
a black Malibu parked outside. The plates were registered to
Izetta Brunson. Further investigation revealed that Brunson
was involved in a narcotics investigation with her boyfriend,
Kevin Conner, and that there was an outstanding warrant from
Jackson County for Conner's arrest.
time Sergeant Dorothy supervised a squad of six officers. On
January 9, 2018, Sergeant Dorothy briefed the other members
of his squad, and a plan was developed to watch for Conner,
arrest him, and have the complaining individuals observe
Conner in a lineup. During the briefing the members of the
squad were shown pictures of Conner obtained from
Conner's driver's license records at the Department
of Revenue and provided basic identifying information (such
as height, weight and race). Two members of the squad, acting
undercover, watched the residence from unmarked cars; during
the surveillance one of them (Sergeant Justin Palmer)
observed a person generally matching Conner's description
leave the house accompanied by a female juvenile, get in the
Malibu, and drive away. Sergeant Palmer was unable to confirm
that the driver was Conner; his original observation was from
half a block away, and the Malibu had tinted windows and the
driver was reclined in his seat.
Palmer followed the Malibu and radioed his observations to
the other squad members, including Officers Bobbie King and
James Oakes, who were in a marked police car. The Malibu
entered the drive-through at a McDonalds, and Sergeant Palmer
parked in the parking lot. When Officers King and Oakes
arrived, there were cars in front of and behind the Malibu;
the officers activated the patrol car's lights and
brought their patrol car next to the Malibu to block it in
the drive-through lane. Officer Oakes exited the car to
approach the Malibu, but the Malibu drove through the
blockade. In doing so it hit the car in front of it, hit a
guard rail adjacent to the drive-through lane (knocking it
into another car), went across multiple lanes of traffic to
cross the street, and ended up at a grocery store parking lot
across the street. The driver then ran from the car and was
eventually apprehended in a parking lot for a nearby
business. It was at this time the officers learned that they
had arrested Defendant and not Conner. Defendant was arrested
for fleeing the scene of an accident and fleeing from the
police; a computer check also revealed that there were
outstanding warrants for Defendant's arrest.
Sergeant Dorothy arrived where the Malibu had come to a stop
in the grocery store's parking lot. He saw the female
juvenile outside the car, crying, and the Malibu's door
was open. He looked inside to see if there was anyone else in
the car and saw a Glock semiautomatic handgun between the
driver's seat and the center console. The Malibu was
eventually towed, and an inventory search revealed a rifle
with a hundred-round clip magazine.
Gwen Marino interviewed Brunson and learned that she lived in
the house with Defendant since Christmas 2017. Detective
Marino also interviewed one of the complaining individuals.
She obtained consent to search the house from both of them.
The results of that search revealed additional firearms that
are described in the Indictment. Also, at some point
Defendant was interviewed and made incriminating statements.
Maughmer took judicial notice of a criminal case filed in
this District: United States v. Kevin Conner, No.
16-00174-01-CR-RK. While nobody - including counsel for the
Government - could confirm whether the defendant in that case
was the same Kevin Conner who was known to associate with
Brunson (and who Sergeant Dorothy's squad intended to
arrest on an outstanding warrant) (see Doc. 73, pp.
38-39) - the material filed in that case establishes that it
was the same person. And, the Court's records reflect
that Conner was indicted by the federal grand jury in May
2016, was arrested on the federal warrant in January 2017,
remained in custody until he pleaded guilty in May 2017, and
has remained in custody since.
argues that the police stopped him at the McDonalds but did
not have reasonable suspicion to do so; therefore, the guns
and his statement must be suppressed. The Government argues
that Defendant was not stopped but even if he was the stop
was supported by reasonable suspicion. The Report recommends
that the Court conclude that Defendant was stopped but that
the police had reasonable suspicion to stop him. The Court
resolves these matters below.
the evidence, including particularly the testimony and
Government's Exhibit 10, demonstrate that Defendant was
not free to leave the McDonald's drive-through. The Court
acknowledges the Government's argument that he was not
stopped, and the Court will address that argument shortly.
However, the Court concludes that the officers had reasonable
suspicion to conduct a stop. Reasonable suspicion is a less
demanding standard than probable cause; it requires more than
an “inchoate and unparticularized suspicion or hunch,
” United States v. Carpenter, 462 F.3d 981,
986 (8th Cir. 2006) (quoting United States v.
Sokolow, 490 U.S. 1, 7 (1989)), but the degree of
suspicion required is minimal. E.g., United States v.
Donnelly, 475 F.3d 946, 952 (8th Cir. 2007). In making
that assessment, an officer can draw on his or her
experiences and training to draw inferences, the facts must
be considered cumulatively, and “[i]nnocent actions can
give rise to reasonable suspicion when considered as part of
the totality of the circumstances.” United States
v. Davison, 808 F.3d 325, 329 (8th Cir. 2015). Here, the
officers knew that (1) the Malibu was parked at the house
long enough to suggest that its owner was associated with the
house, (2) the Malibu was registered to Brunson, (3) Brunson
was associated with Conner, (4) there were warrants for
Conner's arrest, and (5) the person exiting the house and
driving the Malibu appeared to match Conner's
description. These facts gave the officers a reasonable
suspicion that the person they were observing was Conner, and
they were justified in stopping him to confirm or dispel that
argues that none of the officers had positively identified
the driver as Conner, (Doc. 80, p. 5), which is true - but
this does not affect whether the officers had a reasonable
suspicion that the driver was Conner. And, given that they
had reasonable suspicion, the officers were justified in
taking steps to confirm or dispel that suspicion. Defendant
also argues that he was arrested and not merely stopped.
(Doc. 80, pp. 5-6.) It is true that the officers intended to
arrest Defendant - but only if he was Conner. And, the
officers would have been justified in arresting Conner
because there was an outstanding warrant for his arrest.
Until then, they were justified in stopping Defendant to
ascertain if he was Conner. Defendant also contends that he
was arrested and not stopped because the officers approached
with their guns drawn. However, while the driver was not
being stopped or arrested because of his suspected
involvement in the armed home invasion/robbery, he was still
a suspect in that crime - so approaching with guns drawn as a
precaution did not exceed the permissible bounds of the stop.
See, e.g., United States v. Sanford,813 F.3d 708,
712-13 (8th Cir. 2016); United States v. Fisher, 364
F.3d 970, 973-74 (8th Cir. 2004). Finally, Defendant suggests
that the officers could have done more to determine that ...