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State v. Serrano

Court of Appeals of Indiana

November 13, 2019

State of Indiana, Appellant-Plaintiff,
Julio Serrano, Appellee-Defendant

          Appeal from the Hendricks Superior Court Cause No. 32D05-1702-F3-14 The Honorable Stephenie LeMay-Luken, Judge

          Attorneys for Appellant Curtis T. Hill, Jr. Attorney General of Indiana Angela N. Sanchez Courtney L. Staton Deputy Attorneys General Indianapolis, Indiana

          Attorney for Appellee Zachary J. Stock Zachary J. Stock, Attorney at Law, P.C. Indianapolis, Indiana

          MAY, JUDGE.

         [¶1] The State appeals the trial court's order granting Julio Serrano's supplemental motion to suppress. The State raises one issue, which we revise and restate as whether the trial court erred in granting Serrano's supplemental motion to suppress. We reverse and remand.

         Facts and Procedural History[1]

         [¶2] On the night of February 20, 2017, Brownsburg Police Department Officers responded to a dispatch regarding an armed suspect in a residential neighborhood. The dispatch was later updated to a report of an armed robbery in progress. The dispatch described the suspect as being near a silver Chevrolet Envoy. Officer Corey Sears, [2] who had responded to the dispatch, encountered a witness at the scene. Officer Sears asked the witness what car the suspect was driving, and the witness responded that he did not know. Officer Sears' bodycam had not captured a white Cadillac Escalade, but he radioed that a white Cadillac Escalade left the neighborhood at a high rate of speed. Officer Sears did not relay the speed the vehicle was traveling, the vehicle's plate number, a description of the driver, the number of occupants, or any identifying information about any of the occupants. Officer Sears told another officer at the scene that he did not know if the Cadillac was involved, but he did not convey these doubts over the radio.

         [¶3] Detective Dirk Fentz and other officers, including Officer Chad Brandon, also responded to the dispatch and heard the information reported by Officer Sears about the white Cadillac. Detective Fentz observed a white Cadillac stopped at a traffic light and pulled his car "nose-to-nose" with the Cadillac. (Tr. Vol. II at 12.) He approached the Cadillac, noticed a female driver and two other people in the backseat of the vehicle, and ordered the occupants to show their hands. Detective Fentz testified:

We tried to get them to unlock and exit the vehicle. As we did, the doors became unlocked, Mr. Serrano began to exit the back of the vehicle, pushed between me and Officer [Jonathan] Flowers and then ran across Odell [Street] pulling a firearm.

(Id. at 14.) Serrano began to turn toward the officers, started to fumble his firearm, regained possession, and then faced the officers. Detective Fentz used his service weapon to shoot Serrano one time. The officers then recovered Serrano's firearm. Serrano was transported to Eskenazi Hospital, and the court issued an arrest warrant.

         [¶4] The State charged[3] Serrano with Level 4 felony unlawful possession of a firearm by a serious violent felon[4] and alleged Serrano was a habitual offender.[5] On October 15, 2018, Serrano filed a motion to suppress arguing the traffic stop was unconstitutional. During the hearing on the motion to suppress, Serrano relied on the testimony of Officer Brandon and Officer Fentz to argue no evidence supported the white Cadillac's involvement in the alleged robbery. After the hearing, the trial court issued a written order denying the motion to suppress that stated, in part:

The Court finds that due to the vehicle at issue being in the area of the armed robbery and that Officer Brandon testified that the vehicle dispatch reported was involved in the armed robbery was a white Cadillac [E]scalade that law enforcement did not have to provide the Court with the speed limit of the area of the stop or the vehicle's exact speed. The key is that the vehicle was leaving the area at a rate of speed that Detective Fentz (an experienced officer) described at [sic] a high rate of speed.

(App. Vol. 2 at 103-04.)

         [¶5] On January 18, 2019, Serrano filed a supplemental motion to suppress. At a hearing on the supplemental motion, Serrano introduced into evidence bodycam footage from Officer Sears. This footage had not been entered into evidence during the first hearing on Serrano's motion to suppress. After that hearing, the trial court granted Serrano's motion to suppress without entering any specific findings. The State filed a motion to correct error. The trial court denied the State's motion, and the State appeals because the grant of the motion to ...

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