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United States v. Gordon

United States Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit

December 23, 2013

UNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff-Appellee
v.
Wayne E. GORDON, Defendant-Appellant.

Submitted: Sept. 27, 2013.

Rehearing Denied Jan. 30, 2014.

Page 873

Susan M. Hunt, Kansas, MO, for appellant.

D. Michael Green, Asst. U.S. Atty., Kansas, MO (Tammy Dickinson, U.S. Atty., on the brief), for appellee.

Before MURPHY, MELLOY, and SHEPHERD, Circuit Judges.

SHEPHERD, Circuit Judge.

Wayne E. Gordon was indicted for being a felon in possession of a firearm in violation of 18 U.S.C. ยง 922(g)(1). Gordon entered a conditional guilty plea after the district court [1] denied his motion to suppress

Page 874

the firearm recovered fro his vehicle during a traffic stop. Gordon appeals the denial of his motion to suppress, arguing that the stop and subsequent discovery of the firearm violated his Fourth Amendment rights. We affirm.

I.

On January 31, 2009, at approximately 1:39 a.m., Kansas City, Missouri Police Officer Michael Helvie looked through his rear-view mirror and observed a white SUV speeding two blocks away. During his attempt to catch the vehicle, Officer Helvie estimated that the SUV reached speeds ranging from 60 to 80 miles per hour in a 25 miles-per-hour speed zone. He eventually lost sight of the SUV but reported his observation to the dispatcher. Within the next minute, Officer Helvie spotted the SUV again and noticed distinctive characteristics of the vehicle, leading him to believe the SUV was a 2005 or newer Ford Expedition. Officer Helvie reported the description to the dispatcher and requested the assistance of the helicopter unit.

At approximately 1:48 a.m., Officer Helvie caught sight of what appeared to be the Expedition speeding over the Troost Street overpass. Officer Helvie alerted the helicopter unit that the Expedition was southbound at 89th and Troost. A few minutes later, another officer spotted the Expedition on Troost and notified Officer Helvie. Officer Helvie relayed the information to the helicopter unit, and within the next minute, the helicopter unit spotted the Expedition speeding near the reported location. At that point, all officers had been authorized to initiate full pursuit of the Expedition.

The helicopter unit continued to follow the vehicle until it was stopped by Officer Wesley Lambright, who had heard the radio broadcast of the pursuit and observed the helicopter unit's spotlight on the Expedition. Officer Lambright ordered Gordon to exit the vehicle. Gordon complied, leaving the driver's door open upon his exit. Officer Lambright then placed Gordon in handcuffs. When Officer Helvie arrived at the scene, he confirmed that the Expedition was the same one he had observed speeding earlier. Officer Helvie arrested Gordon for careless driving and placed him in a patrol car.

After the arrest, Officer David Ferber and the canine unit arrived on the scene, and Officer Helvie requested that Officer Ferber conduct a canine search of the vehicle. Officer Ferber walked the dog around the Expedition, opened the passenger's door, and guided the dog inside. The dog seemed interested in the dashboard but did not alert on any contraband. Officer Ferber, however, looked under the driver's seat and saw a gun. He immediately notified Officer Helvie. Officer Helvie went to the driver's side of the Expedition and observed a black, semiautomatic handgun under the driver's seat. Officer Helvie testified that the driver's door had remained open since Gordon's exit and that he observed the gun from outside the vehicle. After seizing the gun, Officer Helvie contacted the ...


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