United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, Fort Wayne Division
OPINION AND ORDER
R. Leichty Judge
Charles Byers filed a motion to suppress evidence collected
during his November 19, 2018 encounter with Fort Wayne law
enforcement, Officers Rae Jackson and Ryan Nystuen. Mr. Byers
argues that the evidence from this encounter was procured in
violation of the Fourth Amendment.
court now adopts the well-supported recommendation of the
Magistrate Judge. ECF 35.
November 28, 2018, Mr. Byers was charged in a three-count
indictment with unlawfully possessing a firearm, possessing
with the intent to distribute methamphetamine, and possessing
a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime. 18
U.S.C. §§ 922(g)(1), 924(c); 21 U.S.C. §
841(a)(1). Mr. Byers pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Byers filed a motion to suppress evidence on March 12, 2019.
The government opposed the motion, and the matter was
referred to the Magistrate Judge for a report and
recommendation pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1). An
evidentiary hearing on the motion was held on May 14, 2019.
On October 3, the Magistrate Judge entered her recommendation
denying the motion (ECF 35), to which Mr. Byers objected on
October 11 (ECF 36). The objection is now ripe for decision.
28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(A)-(B), a magistrate judge may not
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 a magistrate
judge's report and recommendation, § 636(b)(1)
A judge of the court shall make a de novo
determination of those portions of the report or specified
proposed findings or recommendations to which objection is
made. A judge of the court may accept, reject, or modify, in
whole or in part, the findings or recommendations made by the
magistrate judge. The judge may also receive further evidence
or recommit the matter to the magistrate judge with
De novo review does not require a new 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 the record appropriately developed for its de
objection, Mr. Byers maintains that his encounter with
Officer Jackson was a seizure, not a consensual encounter. He
argues that Officer Jackson did not have reasonable suspicion
to make an investigatory stop or for officers to search his
vehicle after his arrest. Specifically, Mr. Byers argues that
the Magistrate Judge incorrectly applied Arizona v.
Gant, 556 U.S. 332, 351 (2009); United States v.
Packer, 15 F.3d 654 (7th Cir. 1994); and United
States v. Lechuga, 925 F.2d 1035 (7th Cir. 1991). Today,
Fourth Amendment precedents guide the court to deny the
motion to suppress.
court turns first to the issue of seizure. A law enforcement
encounter may be a seizure if, “taking into account all
of the circumstances surrounding the encounter, the police
conduct would have communicated to a reasonable person that
he was not at liberty to ignore the police presence and go
about his business.” United States v. Packer,
15 F.3d 654, 657 (7th Cir. 1994) (quoting Florida v.
Bostick, 501 U.S. 429, 437 (1991)). Factors relevant to
this determination include:
(1) whether the encounter occurred in a public place; (2)
whether the suspect consented to speak with the officers; (3)
whether the officers informed the individual that he was not
under arrest and was free to leave; (4) whether the
individuals were moved to another area; (5) whether there was
a threatening presence of several officers and a display of
weapons or physical force; (6) whether the officers deprived
the defendant of documents she needed to continue ...