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United States v. Bennett

United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, Fort Wayne Division

October 22, 2014

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
v.
MARVIN L. BENNETT

OPINION AND ORDER

RESA L. SPRINGMANN, District Judge.

This matter is before the Court on Defendant Marvin L. Bennett's Motion to Suppress [ECF No. 18], filed on March 28, 2014. In his Brief in Support of Defendant's Motion to Suppress [ECF No. 26], the Defendant argues that the stop of his person, as well as the subsequent search by police officers, violated his Fourth Amendment rights. The Government responds that the stop was based upon specific and reliable information about an incident involving a gun. The Government asserts that the evidence was seized pursuant to a valid search incident to an investigatory detention. For the reasons set forth in this Opinion and Order, the Court will deny the Defendant's Motion.

BACKGROUND

By way of an Indictment filed on November 20, 2013, the Government charges that, on October 21, 2013, the Defendant knowingly possessed in and affecting commerce a firearm in violation of 18 U.S.C. ยงยง 922(g)(1) and 924(e). On March 28, 2013, the Defendant filed a Motion to Suppress, requesting that the Court suppress evidence that law enforcement officers obtained from his person on October 21, 2013, when they stopped him for an investigatory detention.

On May 1, 2014, the Court conducted an evidentiary hearing on the Motion to Suppress.

The Defendant was present and represented by attorney Michelle F. Kraus. The Government was represented by Assistant United States Attorney Lovita Morris King. The Court granted the Defendant's motion to separate the witnesses. The Court heard testimony from Fort Wayne Police Department Officers Daniel Amos and Kimberly Seiss, and Ada Grosjean. Several exhibits were also admitted into the record. At the conclusion of the hearing, the Court took the Motion under advisement and gave the parties additional time to file briefs. The Defendant and the Government have filed briefs for this Court's consideration, and the matter is ripe for ruling.

FINDINGS OF FACT

Upon consideration of the credibility of the witnesses and the examination of the evidence, the Court makes the following findings of fact.

On October 21, 2013, at 10:52 AM, the City of Fort Wayne and Allen County emergency call center received a 911 call reporting a disturbance involving gun shots in a high crime area. (Tr. 6-7, 42, 68; Govt. Ex. 1.) The caller provided his name and address, the location of the disturbance and a description of the suspects. (Govt. Ex. 1.) The emergency call center dispatched this information to the Fort Wayne Police Department (FWPD). (Govt. Ex. 2.)

FWPD Officer Daniel Amos was dispatched to the area of Baxter and Gaywood Street, the reported location of the incident. (Tr. 9-10.) Officer Amos arrived to the reported location around 10:56 AM. (Tr. 43.) He surveyed the area in an attempt to locate a white colored vehicle with tinted windows, which was reportedly shot at, but was unable to locate the vehicle. (Tr. 14.)

While surveying the area, Officer Amos passed three males standing at the intersection of Baxter and Gaywood Street. ( Id. ) None of the three males appeared suspicious or attempted to flee. (Tr. 30-31.) Officer Amos, recognizing one of the males as an acquaintance nicknamed "House, " asked the man if he had seen or heard anything. (Tr. 14-15, 28.) He replied "No" and Officer Amos continued on. (Tr. 15.)

FWPD Officer Kimberly Seiss and Officer Addison, while on duty and riding together in a police vehicle, received the dispatch and responded as backup at 10:53 AM. (Tr. 46-48.) Officer Seiss heard the following description of the suspects: four black males and one black female on foot; teenagers between the ages of 16 and 19; the female was wearing flowered pants; one of the males was wearing camouflage pants; and one of the males was wearing an "Elmer Fudd-type" hat.[1] (Tr. 48.)

After arriving in the area of Baxter and Gaywood Street, Officers Seiss and Addison also located the three males standing at the intersection of Baxter and Gaywood Streets. (Tr. 49.) The officers concluded that two of the males matched the description provided by dispatch. ( Id. ) They then contacted and met up with Officer Amos. ( Id. ) Officer Amos believes he met Officers Seiss and Addison at South Park, located one block away and outside the three suspects' line of sight. (Tr. 33.) Following a discussion with Officers Seiss and Addison, along with a review of the call comments, [2] Officer Amos realized that two of the three males he had spoken to matched the description provided by dispatch. (Tr. 32, 49.)

All three officers returned to the intersection of Baxter and Gaywood Street at 11:00 AM. (Tr. 16-17.) The three males, including the Defendant, were still standing in the same location. (Tr. 34.) The Defendant was a black male wearing camouflage pants and one of the other suspects was a black male wearing an "Elmer Fudd-type" hat. (Tr. 30.) Officer Seiss testified that none of the males appeared to be between 16 and ...


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