Hennepin County District Court File No. 27CR129029.
Lori Swanson, Attorney General, St. Paul, Minnesota; and Mark J. Schneider, Jeffrey D. Bores, Chestnut & Cambronne PA, Minneapolis, Minnesota (for appellant).
Mark D. Nyvold, Special Assistant State Public Defender, Fridley, Minnesota (for respondent).
Considered and decided by Stauber, Presiding Judge; Schellhas, Judge; and Hooten, Judge.
Appellant challenges a pretrial evidence-suppression order premised on a police officer's seizure of respondent without reasonable suspicion. We affirm.
Appellant State of Minnesota charged respondent Ryan Thibedeau with fourth-degree driving while impaired. Thibedeau moved to suppress all evidence seized as a result of his contact with Golden Valley Police Department Patrol Officer Daniel Pacholke. At the suppression hearing, Officer Pacholke was the only witness and testified as follows.
At approximately 1:11 a.m. on New Year's Day, 2011, Officer Pacholke was conducting a routine patrol in the residential area of Golden Valley near Bonnie Lane. Bonnie Lane is a residential street north off of Golden Valley Road that dead ends into a cul-de-sac. While driving westbound on Golden Valley Road, Officer Pacholke observed a legally parked vehicle along the west side of Bonnie Lane with its headlights facing south. A fellow officer had seen the vehicle moments earlier by the cul-de-sac and contacted him by radio, advising of the presence of the vehicle. Officer Pacholke decided to investigate. Officer Pacholke found the vehicle suspicious because it was stopped near a cul-de-sac, the street was dark, and he had rarely seen vehicles near that cul-de-sac except for residents who parked on their driveways or in garages.
Officer Pacholke entered Bonnie Lane and stopped his squad—an SUV—facing the front of the parked vehicle. He stopped the SUV "pretty much in the middle lane, not directly in front of the vehicle but to the east side of the vehicle, " angling his SUV west. In doing so, he did not prevent the vehicle from moving forward or backward, but rather allowed his SUV's headlights to illuminate the parked vehicle in order to see its interior and occupants. He also activated his vehicle's red and blue flashing emergency lights to (1) ensure that anyone driving down Bonnie Lane would be able to see him; (2) ensure that, "if anything were to happen, " his fellow officer could find him; and (3) inform the vehicle's occupants that "this is the police." Officer Pacholke exited his SUV and approached the other vehicle's front driver's side window, observing that the engine was running and the radio was on. He does not recall whether he knocked on the window, but the individual in the driver's seat rolled it down.
Officer Pacholke observed that the driver was wearing a seat belt and that keys were in the ignition. Officer Pacholke began speaking with the driver, asked for his driver's license, and identified him as Thibedeau. Thibedeau stated that he and the vehicle's other occupants became lost after leaving a party in Minneapolis. Thibedeau admitted to drinking one beer before driving, but Officer Pacholke smelled a "[s]trong" alcoholic odor coming from the vehicle and observed Thibedeau's eyes to be bloodshot and watery and that he tried to avoid looking at him. Thibedeau was arrested.
The district court granted Thibedeau's suppression motion, concluding that Officer Pacholke seized Thibedeau without ...