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In re Welfare of M. D. R.

March 22, 2005

IN THE MATTER OF THE WELFARE OF M. D. R.


Hennepin County District Court File No. J8-04-051735.

Considered and decided by Toussaint, Chief Judge, Hudson, Judge, and Crippen, Judge..

SYLLABUS BY THE COURT

A police officer is justified in stopping a person on the street when the officer articulates cause to intrude, showing that he acted on reasonable suspicions and not on a mere whim. A lawful frisk of the stopped individual may occur if the officer reasonably believes that such a search is necessary to protect the officer's safety or the safety of others.

Based on the totality of the circumstances, otherwise "innocent" behaviors, taken in combination, may provide a reasonable basis for stopping and frisking an individual. These principles permit the stop and frisk in the circumstances surrounding a police response in this case to an "officer-needs-help" call on a police radio.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Crippen, Judge

Affirmed

Crippen, Judge*fn1

OPINION

Appellant M.D.R. challenges a district court order adjudicating him delinquent on a charge of possession of a firearm by an underage person in violation of Minn. Stat. § 624.713, subds. 1(a), (2) (Supp. 2003), arguing that two Minneapolis police officers failed to show lawful cause either for stopping appellant or proceeding immediately to perform a safety pat-down search. Appellant was adjudicated delinquent based upon the discovery during the pat down that he possessed a pistol. Because the record does not show wrongful search conduct by the officers, we affirm.

FACTS

On a Friday evening in February 2004, at approximately 10:00 p.m., Minneapolis police officer Jerry Johnson was on patrol when he heard an "officer-needs-help" call on his police radio. The police broadcast identified the location of the call as an entertainment complex known as "Block E" in downtown Minneapolis. Johnson was directly in front of an entrance to Block E when he heard the help call and responded immediately.

"Officer needs help" is a term of art among police officers indicating that an officer is injured or in danger and urgently needs help.*fn2 As Johnson explained, the "officer-needs-help" message is treated by police as one of the "highest priority" among calls received. The police dispatch contained no description of the situation, and Johnson did not know what had occurred inside Block E.

Johnson stated that as he was about to enter Block E, he saw "three guys running out the door." According to Johnson, the three saw him and gave him a look that Johnson described from experience as "oh, no, don't stop me." Johnson said that the men glanced left and right, appeared panicked, and had a look of avoidance.

Johnson called on his radio for assistance in stopping the individuals. He "stated that there were three [people] that just came running out the door, gave a brief description of their clothing and [said] that [Johnson] was going to try and stop them." In his ...


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