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United States v. Beachem

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

October 18, 2018




         On October 4, 2014, an officer from the Fort Wayne Police Department initiated a felony stop of Defendant Demetri D. Beachem's vehicle, believing that its occupants had been involved in a shooting earlier that night. On February 22, 2017, a grand jury indicted Beachem and others as a racketeering enterprise for activity related to attempted murder, conspiracy to murder, and assault with a dangerous weapon.

         On December 1, 2017, the Defendant filed a Motion to Suppress [ECF No. 83] evidence obtained as a result of and in conjunction with the stop on October 4, 2014, alleging that the police discovered the evidence through an unreasonable search and seizure. Upon referral from this Court, Magistrate Judge Susan L. Collins held an evidentiary hearing on March 6, 2018, received post-hearing briefing, and issued a Report and Recommendation (“R&R”) [ECF No. 144], recommending that the Court deny the Defendant's Motion to Suppress.

         This matter is now before the Court on the Defendant's Objections to the R&R [ECF No. 149]. On October 1, 2018, the Government filed a Notice [ECF No. 150] advising the Court that the Government intends to rely both on its Response Brief Regarding Motion to Suppress [ECF No. 150], filed on July 23, 2019, and the R&R in response to the Defendant's Objections.


         Under 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(A)-(B), a magistrate judge does not have authority to issue a final order on a motion to suppress evidence in a criminal case. Instead, the magistrate judge submits proposed findings of fact and recommendations to the district court. If a party files a timely objection to the magistrate judge's report and recommendation, § 636(b)(1) provides that

the district judge is to make a de novo determination of those portions of the report or specified proposed findings or recommendations to which objection is made. The court may accept, reject, modify, in whole or in part, the findings or recommendations made by the magistrate judge. The judge also may receive further evidence or recommit the matter to the magistrate judge with instructions.

         De novo review does not require a de novo evidentiary hearing, even when witness credibility is at issue. See United States v. Raddatz, 447 U.S. 667, 673-76 (1980). Neither party has requested such a hearing, and the Court finds that the record before the Magistrate Judge is sufficient to allow this Court to make a de novo determination.


         The Government offered the testimony of six law enforcement officials at the evidentiary hearing. (R&R 2.) The Magistrate Judge found their testimony to be credible. (Id.) The Defendant's objections do not dispute the Magistrate Judge's assessment regarding the credibility of the witnesses' testimonies or the Magistrate Judge's characterization of their testimonies. In fact, during the March 6, 2018, evidentiary hearing, the Defendant did not offer the testimony of any witnesses or meaningfully challenge the testimony of the Government's witnesses. Instead, the Defendant now challenges the Magistrate Judge's findings that the evidence offered at the hearing supported the conclusion that the Defendant's Fourth Amendment rights were not violated during the automobile stop and search in question. Accordingly, as they are not disputed by either party, this Court adopts the Magistrate Judge's findings of fact regarding the events leading up to and including the October 4, 2014 traffic stop and vehicle search.

         The Defendant's objections to the Magistrate's R&R concern the following findings:

1. The R&R's reference to the Defendant as a member of the “2500” gang before a jury adjudged the Defendant's guilt under 18 U.S.C. § 1959, the Racketeer Influenced Corrupt Organization Act (“RICO”);
2. The R&R's conclusion that Sergeant Todd Hammel had probable cause to conduct an automobile stop after observing certain traffic infractions;
3. The R&R's conclusion that Sergeant Hammel had reasonable suspicion of criminal activity to conduct an automobile stop;
4. The R&R's finding that Sergeant Hammel knew the license plate number of the Defendant's vehicle shortly before the stop through the collective knowledge doctrine; and
5. The R&R's conclusion that the warrantless search of the Defendant's automobile was justified under the automobile ...

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