Shane E. OKEEFE, Appellant-Defendant,
STATE of Indiana, Appellee-Plaintiff
from the Vanderburgh Circuit Court, The Honorable David D.
Kiely, Judge, Trial Court Cause No. 82C01-1807-F4-4879
for Appellant: Cara Schaefer Wieneke, Wieneke Law Office,
LLC, Brooklyn, Indiana
for Appellee: Curtis T. Hill, Jr., Attorney General, Samuel
J. Dayton, Deputy Attorney General, Indianapolis, Indiana
1] Shane E. OKeefe appeals his convictions,
following a bench trial, for level 4 felony possession of
methamphetamine and class C misdemeanor possession of
paraphernalia. He asserts that the trial court abused
its discretion in admitting evidence obtained as a result of
the patdown search of his person during a valid traffic stop.
He claims that the search violated his rights under the
Fourth Amendment to the United States
Constitution. Finding no constitutional violation,
and therefore no abuse of discretion, we affirm.
Facts and Procedural History
[¶ 2] On July 16, 2018, Lieutenant Brent
Hoover of the Evansville Police Department was traveling
eastbound on Diamond Avenue in a fully marked patrol vehicle.
He observed a black Harley Davidson motorcycle with two
occupants traveling with no visible license plate. Lieutenant
Hoover activated his emergency lights and sirens and
initiated a traffic stop of the motorcycle. At the time of
the stop, Lieutenant Hoover was off duty and was not wearing
his police uniform.
3] The motorcycle was being operated by OKeefe, and
a female passenger, Megan Schmitt, was with him. When
Lieutenant Hoover approached OKeefe and Schmitt, he observed
that Schmitt was extremely nervous. Lieutenant Hoover also
observed a large knife bag attached to the motorcycle and
observed that the motorcycle appeared to be freshly painted.
Lieutenant Hoover took custody of the knife attached to the
motorcycle and asked OKeefe if he had any other
weapons. OKeefe stated that he did not.
[¶ 4] Upon Lieutenant Hoovers request,
OKeefe and Schmitt provided identification. OKeefe produced
an Indiana drivers license with no motorcycle endorsement.
Schmitt produced an Indiana identification card. OKeefe was
unable to produce proof of insurance. After receiving the
identification, Lieutenant Hoover returned to his patrol
vehicle, ran the information, and verified that Schmitt had
an active misdemeanor arrest warrant. While Lieutenant Hoover
was still in his patrol vehicle, he observed Schmitt on her
cell phone, and then saw her start "walking away."
Tr. Vol. 2 at 9. When Lieutenant Hoover then exited the
patrol car, Schmitt "actually ran." Id.
For the purposes of civilian and officer safety, Lieutenant
Hoover placed handcuffs on OKeefe and informed him that he
was being detained and not arrested. Lieutenant Hoover
"didnt know what was taking place, why [Schmitt had
fled] ... hadnt been able to determine ownership of the
motorcycle or any of those things at that point."
Id. at 10. Because Lieutenant Hoover observed that
OKeefe was wearing a motorcycle vest with several large
bulges, he did a brief patdown search of OKeefe for weapons.
He located a sharpening stone for a knife in one of OKeefes
vest pockets and removed it.
[¶ 5] Evansville Police Department Detective
Nathan Hassler just happened to be driving by the scene when
he observed Lieutenant Hoover on the side of the road, not in
uniform, with a "subject detained." Id. at
19. Detective Hassler stopped to see if Lieutenant Hoover
needed assistance. Lieutenant Hoover advised Detective
Hassler that another "subject had fled from the
stop," and he asked Detective Hassler to "take
custody of Mr. OKeefe at that time while he went to search
for the subject that had fled." Id. Lieutenant
Hoover then left to pursue Schmitt.
[¶ 6] Detective Hassler, who was now alone
with OKeefe, immediately noticed that OKeefe "had a
lot of bulky items in his motorcycle vest." Id.
In addition to the fact that OKeefes passenger had just
fled the scene, Detective Hassler found it concerning that
OKeefe "had a large number of garments on for that time
of year, temperature wise," not to mention that it
appeared that his outer vest "pockets were packed full
of stuff," which alerted Detective Hassler to an
"obvious safety issue in terms of what could be
[accessed] by OKeefe." Id. at 20. Unaware of
whether Lieutenant Hoover had already conducted a patdown
search, Detective Hassler conducted a patdown search to make
"sure that Mr. ...