United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, Hammond Division
OPINION AND ORDER
S. VAN BOKKELEN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Artez Brewer moved to suppress various evidence the
government may use against him at trial on bank robbery
charges. The Court held an evidentiary hearing and the
parties briefed the issues. Having considered the evidence
and the parties' arguments, the Court denies
Defendant's motions to suppress.
in February 2016, the government began suspecting that
Defendant and his co-defendant, Robin Pawlak, were involved
in a series of bank robberies. On April 28, Centier Bank in
Griffith was robbed and, on May 6, the Main Source Bank in
Crown Point was robbed. Before each of these robberies, a
young black man would come into the bank making unusual
requests. On May 27, the Horizon Bank in Whiting was robbed,
and the FBI investigators, noticing the pattern from the
previous two robberies asked one of the employees if she
observed anything unusual before the robbery. The employee
told the investigators that the day before the robbery a
young black man came in near closing time asking about gold
coins. The man didn't make any transactions at the bank.
The employee said she took a good look at the man because he
acted suspiciously and said she would be able to recognize
him in the future. The agents then showed the employee images
from surveillance videos related to the earlier bank
robberies and the employee identified the person in the
images as the same person who inquired about the gold coins.
The agents then secured the image of the person who came to
inquire about the gold coins from the surveillance video of
the Horizon Bank. The image was distributed to area law
enforcement officers and one of them recognized the person in
the image as Defendant.
result of the FBI's investigation, on June 2, 2016, the
government sought and obtained warrants from an Indiana judge
to install GPS tracking devices on four cars associated with
Defendant, including a silver Volvo. The warrant limits the
tracking of the cars to Indiana territory.
days after the GPS tracker was installed on the Volvo,
Defendant and Pawlak began driving the car to Los Angeles,
and the government continued tracking the car. Along the way,
on June 7, they were stopped in Omaha by an Omaha criminal
interdiction police officer, Jeffrey Vaughn. The stop had
nothing to do with the bank robbery investigation; rather,
Officer Vaughn saw the Volvo drive twice for a second or two
over the white lane dividers separating the lanes. Officer
Vaughn believed that Defendant, the driver of the car,
violated Nebraska law requiring drivers to maintain a single
lane of traffic, Nebraska State Statute 60-6, 139 (“. .
. a vehicle shall be driven as nearly as practicable within a
single lane and shall not be moved from such lane until the
driver has first ascertained that such movement can be made
with safety . . .”).
Vaughn, who has been a police officer for almost twenty
years, is a police dog handler and assists with narcotics
investigations. He also patrols highways in Omaha, looking
for persons involved in criminal activity. When Officer
Vaughn approached Defendant's car, he smelled perfume
emanating from the car.
avoid being hit by passing vehicles, Officer Vaughn told
Defendant to come to his police car. He asked Defendant where
he was coming from and where he was going and for what
purpose. (He later asked Pawlak the same questions and
received inconsistent answers from her.) While waiting on the
dispatcher to check out Defendant's driver's license
and to determine if any warrants were outstanding for him,
Officer Vaughn took out his dog, Nacho, to sniff around the
Volvo. While he was walking Nacho around the front of the
car, Nacho got excited, moving faster toward the driver's
window. Once there, it lifted its nose toward the open driver
window and sat down, thus alerting Officer Vaughn to the odor
this, Officer Vaughn called for additional officers and once
they arrived, the car was searched. Officer Vaughn could
smell marijuana but no actual drugs were found.
FBI Special Agent Michael Peasley had been monitoring
Defendant's drive across the country. He became concerned
when he saw that the car had stopped for a prolonged time on
a highway in Omaha. Concerned that Defendant was stopped by
police and that his investigation might be derailed, Agent
Peasley contacted Special Agent Hallock in Omaha and asked
him to drive to the location where Defendant was stopped.
Agent Peasley asked Agent Hallock to take pictures if certain
items were found in the car. After about an hour and a half
from the moment Defendant was stopped, he was let go with
just a warning ticket.
after their arrival in Los Angeles, on June 10, Defendant and
Pawlak began staking out a bank to rob. Agent Peasley, seeing
GPS indications that the Volvo was near a bank, alerted the
FBI in Los Angeles about a possible plan to rob the bank.
Defendant and Pawlak did indeed rob the bank but the FBI was
ready for them and they were arrested.
was then interviewed by Special Agent Jonathan Bauman and
Detective Joseph Harris. Agent Bauman read Defendant his
Miranda rights, to which he responded “[y]ou
know we don't sign shit like this, right?”
(Gov't Exh. B at 8). The following exchange ensued:
Agent Bauman: Well, if you want to talk, without signing
anything, we can do that. I just-you got to tell us that
it's okay to talk.
Artez Brewer: Sure. I can talk-what you want to know but
shit, I'm-aint' gon' sign nothing, bro, cause I
ain't-hey, you know. Come on, man. You know better than
Agent Bauman: Okay. Well, then what I'll do is I'll
fill it out, and say you refused to sign, but we're gonna
talk to you.
Artez Brewer: Okay. That's fine, yeah.
Agent Bauman: Okay?
Artez Brewer: Yeah; okay. Sure.
(Id. at 8-9.)
minute later, Agent Bauman again confirmed that Defendant
wanted to speak with them:
Agent Bauman: So you refused to sign. We read you your
rights, but you're willing to talk to us. You just
don't want to sign ...