from the Marion Superior Court, No. 49G20-1503-F5-8548 The
Honorable Peggy Hart, Commissioner The Honorable Shatrese
Marie Flowers, Judge.
Petition To Transfer from the Indiana Court of Appeals, No.
ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLANT Ruth Ann Johnson Marion County Public
Defender Agency, Michael R. Fisher, Marion County Public
Defender Agency, Indianapolis, Indiana.
ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE Curtis T. Hill, Jr Attorney General of
Indiana, Henry Albert Flores, Jr., Deputy Attorney General
Caryn Nieman-Szyper, Deputy Attorney General Indianapolis,
with possession of a firearm Defendant moved to suppress the
evidence on both federal and state constitutional grounds.
The trial court denied the motion. After de novo review, we
reverse the judgment of the trial court.
and Procedural History
February 20, 2015, patrol officers with the Indianapolis
Metropolitan Police Department received a dispatch advising
"there was a couple in a taxi cab. And upon exiting the
taxi cab . . . a black male dropped a handgun and the taxi
driver [felt] he was going to be robbed, he was afraid."
Tr. at 5. The taxi driver described the man as "[a]
black male wearing a blue jacket" with a "black
female with blonde hair." Tr. at 7. Officer Jason Palmer
responded to the dispatch and was the first officer to arrive
on the scene-the Studio Movie Grill. Because the taxi driver
left before the police arrived, Officer Palmer called the
driver directly to get more information. The driver
"said the gun had fell [sic], " although Officer
Palmer was not sure "if it was on the ground or in the
taxi cab." Tr. at 6. And although the taxi driver
reported "he was feared [sic] that he might be robbed,
" in fact "he wasn't actually robbed." Tr.
at 12. And the driver made no claim the man had threatened
him with the weapon. Tr. at 13.
Officer Palmer proceeded inside the establishment Officer
George Stewart arrived to assist. While speaking to security
personnel, the officers observed "a black female with
blonde hair walking away from a bench area" and then
"observed a black male wearing a blue jeans [sic] and
sweatshirt" seated on a bench in the area from which the
woman had left. Tr. at 7, 8. The man was later identified as
Thomas Pinner. The bench was next to a wall that was
positioned behind Pinner. The officers approached the seated
Pinner with Officer Palmer "standing on one side and
Officer Stewart was standing on the other side[.]" Tr.
at 15. Officer Palmer introduced himself and informed Pinner
that they had received a call that "someone of [his]
description . . . has a handgun on him." Tr. at 8.
Officer Palmer then asked Pinner if he possessed a weapon.
Pinner paused "for a few seconds" during which
"he was kind of a little rocking back and forth
[wringing] his hands." Tr. at 8. Although hesitant to
answer, he denied having a weapon. Officer Palmer then
instructed Pinner to "stand up and keep his hands
up" where they could be seen; Tr. at 22, Pinner complied
and Officer Palmer saw the butt of a gun in Pinner's
front pocket. Officer Palmer secured the weapon and detained
Pinner for further investigation.
was arrested and charged with class A misdemeanor carrying a
handgun without a license enhanced to a level 5 felony due to
a prior felony conviction. He filed a motion to suppress,
contending the search and seizure were conducted in violation
of both the Fourth Amendment to the United States
Constitution and Article 1, Section 11 of the Indiana
Constitution. Following a hearing, the trial court denied the
motion concluding the officers had reasonable suspicion to
approach and question Pinner. App. at 45 (Order on Def.'s
Mot. to Suppress Evid. at 3) ("The knowledge and facts
known to this officer at the time of the stop was
sufficiently particularized and objective to infer
possible criminal activity or that criminal activity
'may be afoot'. Court finds the initial
detention amounted to reasonable suspicion and therefore was
reasonable."). Pinner filed a Petition to Certify the
Order for Interlocutory Appeal, which the trial court
granted. The Court of Appeals accepted jurisdiction and, in a
divided opinion, reversed the judgment of the trial court,
concluding "no reasonable suspicion justified the
investigatory stop. . . ." Pinner v. State, 59
N.E.3d 275, 276 (Ind.Ct.App. 2016). The State petitioned for
transfer which this Court previously granted. Additional
facts are set forth below.
review a trial court's denial of the Defendant's
motion to suppress based upon a standard similar to that
employed for other sufficiency of evidence issues.
Litchfield v. State, 824 N.E.2d 356, 358 (Ind.
2005). Although "[w]e do not reweigh the evidence"
and we generally "consider conflicting evidence most
favorably to the trial court's ruling, "
id., the Court will consider "uncontradicted
evidence to the contrary, to decide whether the evidence is
sufficient to support the ruling." Holder v.
State, 847 N.E.2d 930, 935 (Ind. 2006). Further, when an
appellant's challenge to such a ruling is premised on a
claimed constitutional violation, we review the issue de novo
because it raises a question of law. Guilmette v.
State, 14 N.E.3d 38, 40-41 (Ind. 2014).
Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution guarantees
"[t]he right of the people to be secure in their persons
. . . against unreasonable search and
seizures." Generally, to be reasonable, a search must
be conducted pursuant to a properly-issued warrant supported
by probable cause. Membres v. State, 889 N.E.2d 265,
275 (Ind. 2008). However, police may- without a warrant-stop
an individual for investigatory purposes if, based upon
specific, articulable facts, the officer has reasonable
suspicion that criminal activity "may be afoot."
Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1, 30 (1968). Here Pinner
contends the officers lacked reasonable suspicion that he was
committing or was about to commit a crime to justify the
investigatory stop. ...