United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Evansville Division
ENTRY ON DEFENDANT'S SECOND MOTION TO
RICHARD L. YOUNG, JUDGE
case stems from a warrantless search of an automobile. On
June 13, 2017, law enforcement officers pulled over a vehicle
in which Defendant was a passenger to arrest him on an
outstanding warrant for violating his parole. The officers
then searched the vehicle and found two firearms near where
Defendant was seated. Because the government has not carried
its burden of showing that an exception to the general
warrant requirement applies, the search violated
Defendant's Fourth Amendment rights. Accordingly,
Defendant's motion to suppress will be
Friday, March 10, 2017, Katie Hawkins and Breea Galiher
traveled from Illinois to Evansville, Indiana to meet up with
Defendant and spend the evening gambling at a local casino.
However, their luck ran out by the end of the night: Galiher
got a flat tire that prevented them from returning home. They
could not change the tire because the rim had a locking lug
nut, and Galiher left the key back in Illinois. They ended up
staying the rest of Friday and Saturday at Defendant's
house, though Defendant apparently stayed elsewhere.
Sunday, they returned to the casino with Defendant and
gambled overnight. On Monday morning, Defendant and Galiher
left the casino in a white Nissan Pathfinder to find a can of
Fix-A-Flat, hoping to repair Galiher's flat tire. The
Pathfinder was owned by Jessica Jackson, who was the mother
of Defendant's child, but she frequently let Defendant
use it. They first stopped at Defendant's residence,
where he was confronted by Jackson, who was upset because he
was with another woman. After the two had an argument,
Defendant left with Galiher to resume their mission of
finding a solution to the flat tire.
they did not get very far. Shortly after they left the house,
officers with the Evansville Police Department
(“EPD”) pulled them over. Before they came to a
complete stop, Defendant attempted to hand Galiher a gun to
hide. She rejected his request. Once stopped, Galiher and
Defendant exited the vehicle. Galiher told the officers
Defendant had attempted to hand her a gun, and it was still
in the vehicle. The officers searched the vehicle but did not
find anything. They subsequently released Defendant and
Galiher without making an arrest.
arrived to the scene of the traffic stop to get her vehicle,
and then drove Galiher back to the casino to pick up Hawkins.
The three of them subsequently returned to Defendant's
house. Meanwhile, an unidentified woman picked up Defendant
from the traffic stop, and the two of them went to a nearby
restaurant. At some point later in the morning, the
unidentified woman dropped Defendant off at his house.
briefly reset the scene: it is late Monday morning, and
Defendant, Galiher, Hawkins, and Jackson are now at
Defendant's house. Realizing that Hawkins and Galiher
needed to get back to Illinois, Jackson permitted them to use
her vehicle. Defendant also joined because he needed a ride
to a nearby house, and Hawkins said she could drop him off on
the way. The three of them exited the house and entered the
Pathfinder: Hawkins as the driver, Galiher as the front-seat
passenger, and Defendant as the rear-seat passenger. Hawkins
then drove away from the residence. Unbeknownst to them, at
this time, Task Force Officers from the United States
Marshal's Fugitive Task Force were surveilling the
residence because Defendant had an outstanding warrant based
on a parole violation.
only made it a few blocks before the officers conducted a
traffic stop. Task Force Officer Brian Bishop initiated the
stop. He was joined by Troopers Michael Finney and Justin
Bean of the Indiana State Police, Detective Sergeant Kurt
Althoff of the Vanderburgh County Sheriff's Office,
Deputy U.S. Marshal Chris Baldelli, and Deputy U.S. Marshal
Jon Albright. Trooper Finney testified that this stop was a
felony stop, which is a tactical stop officers use when there
is a higher potential of risk to officer safety. In such a
scenario, the officers position their vehicles in a manner
where, if needed, they can be used as cover. With their
firearms drawn,  the officers ordered Hawkins, Galiher, and
Defendant out of the vehicle. All three were detained without
Finney and Officer Bishop began searching the vehicle
immediately. Trooper Finney testified that he did not speak
to any of the occupants of the vehicle before conducting the
search, and he had not been briefed by any other officer.
Ultimately, Trooper Finney found two firearms located in a
compartment under the middle seat, in the rear of the
vehicle. At that point, the officers contacted Task Force
Officers Joshua Patterson, who is a narcotics detective for
Vanderburgh County Sheriff's Office, and Douglas Francis,
who is an Indiana State Trooper assigned to assist ATF, to
come to the scene and further investigate. TFO Patterson
arrived to the scene and began taking photographs and
collecting evidence. TFO Francis arrived and interviewed
Galiher and Hawkins. TFO Francis then drove to the
Vanderburgh County Sheriff Department's Command Post,
where Defendant had been transported, and interviewed
Defendant. During the interview, Defendant admitted to
possessing the two firearms.
29, 2017, Defendant was indicted on one count of unlawful
possession of a firearm. (Filing No. 1). On August 23, 2017,
he filed his first motion to suppress. (Filing No. 19). The
government responded on August 31, 2017, and on October 17,
2017, the court conducted a suppression hearing. (Filing Nos.
20 and 25).
suppression hearing, Sergeant Althoff testified for the
government. With respect to the timing of the search
of the vehicle, Sergeant Althoff testified that the officers
talked to Hawkins and Galiher before the officers
searched the vehicle. (Suppression Hr'g Tr. at 20:9 -
13). The following exchange took place between the government
and Sergeant Althoff:
Q: When you spoke to [Hawkins and Galiher], were they -- were
they willing to speak with you?
A: They were. They were cooperative.
Q: And what did you learn when you spoke to them?
A: Well, we asked them what was going on during the stop
because as I mentioned before, I was in the very back but we
had radio contact with everybody, and they were saying that
[Defendant] was moving all around in the back seat. So we
kind of talked to them about that, what was going on; and as
I mentioned, the girls were very cooperative. They said that
during the stop, Mr. Reed was trying to have them stash items
or hide items.
(Id. at 30:2 - 12). The “items, ”
Sergeant Althoff explained, were two methamphetamine pipes, a
bag of marijuana, and a handgun. (Id. at 30:16 -
25). Sergeant Althoff reiterated that the search occurred
after the conversation with Hawkins and Galiher:
Q: When you learned this information from these two
passengers, had a search of the vehicle been conducted yet?
(Id. at 31:7 - 9). Based on Sergeant Althoff's
testimony, the court denied Defendant's motion to
suppress. (See Filing No. 28, Order Denying Motion
to Suppress). The court found that the officers had probable
cause to search the vehicle:
Officer Althoff testified that Defendant's parole agent
advised officers, prior to the arrest, that Defendant was
known to carry firearms. After talking with Hawkins and
Galiher, the officers were aware that Defendant had attempted
to conceal methamphetamine pipes and marijuana, both of which
were found, and also a firearm, which had not yet been
located. The officers were mindful too of Defendant's
suspicious movements while the vehicle was being pulled over.
Armed with all of this knowledge, the officers had enough
information to believe that a firearm would be found in the
(Id. at 6).
his motion to suppress denied and having failed to reach a
plea agreement with the government, on March 12, 2018,
Defendant proceeded to trial. After testimony from three of
the government's witnesses (Hawkins, Jackson, and
Galiher), Defendant renewed his motion to suppress.
(See Filing No. 57, Transcript of Jury Trial - Day 1
(“Day 1 Tr.”) at 219 - 222). The court took the
motion under advisement and proceeded with evidence.
(Id. at 222). For reasons not important here, the
trial ultimately ended in a mistrial. (See Filing
March 29, 2018, Defendant filed a second motion to
suppress-the present motion before the court. (Filing No.
52). On April 4, 2018, the government responded. (Filing No.
going forward, the court must first address a procedural
hurdle: the consideration of a second motion to suppress
having already denied Defendant's first one. With this
out of the way, the court then ...