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United States v. Spack

United States District Court, D. Minnesota

April 23, 2014

United States of America, Plaintiff,
Tommy Michael Spack, Defendant.

Surya Saxena, Esq., United States Attorney's Office, for Plaintiff.

Kyle D. White, Esq., for Defendant.


STEVEN E. RAU, Magistrate Judge.

The above-captioned case comes before the undersigned on Defendant Tommy Michael Spack's ("Spack") Motion for Suppression of Statements ("Mot. to Suppress Statements") [Doc. No. 13] and Motion to Suppress Evidence Obtained through Illegal Search and Seizure ("Mot. to Suppress Evidence") [Doc. No. 14]. This matter has been referred to the undersigned for the resolution of the issues raised in Spack's Motions pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B)-(C) and District of Minnesota Local Rule 72.1. For the reasons stated below, this Court recommends denying Spack's Motions.[1]


On February 3, 2014, the Government indicted Spack with one count of being a felon in possession of a firearm in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1). (Indictment) [Doc. No. 5 at 1-2]. At the pretrial motions hearing on March 12, 2014, this Court heard testimony from St. Paul Police Department ("SPPD") Officer Tim Filiowich ("Officer Filiowich") and received into evidence Government Exhibit 1, a copy of the squad video from the night in question; Government Exhibit 2, a recording of the custodial interview from after the arrest; and Government Exhibit 3, a copy of the Miranda form read to and signed by Spack. (Ex. & Witness List) [Doc. No. 18]. At the request of the parties, the Court ordered supplemental briefing. (Order for Supplemental Briefing) [Doc. No. 24]. Spack submitted his supplemental brief on April 3, 2014, and the Government submitted its response on April 10, 2014. (Spack's Mem. in Supp. of Mot. to Suppress, "Spack's Mem. in Supp.") [Doc. No. 26]; (Gov't's Resp. in Opp'n to Mots. to Suppress, "Gov't's Resp.") [Doc. No. 27]. Spack did not file a reply although the Court permitted him to do so. See (Order for Supplemental Briefing) (setting April 15, 2014, as the date by which Spack was required to file a reply if he felt it necessary). This case is set for trial before United States District Judge Ann D. Montgomery on May 12, 2014. (Order Dated Mar. 27, 2014) [Doc. No. 25].


On December 14, 2013, at approximately 1:00 a.m., SPPD Officer Jeffrey Cragg ("Officer Cragg") and Officer Filiowich were on a routine patrol in St. Paul, Minnesota.[2] (Tr. of Arraignment and Mots. Hr'g Held on Mar. 12, 2014, "Tr.") [Doc. No. 23 at 5]. Officer Cragg was the driver of the squad and Officer Filiowich was in the front passenger seat. ( Id. at 6). As they were driving northbound bound on Van Dyke, the Officers noticed a dark colored Mitsubishi Sports Utility Vehicle, with its engine running in the driveway of 1831 Case Avenue. ( Id. at 5, 9). This house was familiar to Officer Filiowich because he had made multiple arrests, primarily for narcotics, at the address, and the vehicle in the driveway piqued his interest. ( Id. at 5-6). As the Officers proceeded past the house, Officer Filiowich continued to watch the Mitsubishi. ( Id. at 6). When the Officers saw the Mitsubishi back out of the driveway and drive southbound on Van Dyke, they made a U-turn and followed the vehicle. ( Id. at 6-7). The squad followed the Mitsubishi, for approximately four blocks. ( Id. at 7). When the Mitsubishi approached the intersection of Van Dyke and Stillwater, it slowed to make a right turn without coming to a complete stop, according to Officer Filiowich. ( Id. ).

Officer Filiowich testified that he had been trained to watch the tires on a vehicle to determine whether it had come to a complete stop. ( Id. ). Officer Filiowich stated that he and Officer Cragg had a conversation, lasting only a couple of seconds, about whether the vehicle had come to a complete stop at the stop sign. ( Id. at 7-8, 26-27). The Officers determined that the Mitsubishi's tires had not stopped spinning at the stop sign, thus, warranting probable cause for a traffic stop. ( Id. at 7-8).[3] The squad's flashing lights turned on as soon as the Mitsubishi accelerated and started to turn right. ( Id. at 22); see (Gov't's Ex. 1). The Mitsubishi pulled over immediately. (Tr. at 10); (Gov't's Ex. 1).

The Officers exited the squad, and Officer Cragg approached the driver's side of the Mitsubishi while Officer Filiowich approached the passenger side. (Transcript at 10). Officer Filiowich recognized the driver as Spack because the two had interacted previously. ( Id. at 10, 12). Although it was not documented in the police report, Officer Filiowich testified that he and Officer Cragg confirmed Spack's identity and documented his date of birth after requesting Spack's license. ( Id. at 10-11, 23, 27). Spack was the sole occupant of the vehicle, and appeared nervous because his head was down, was not answering questions clearly or loud enough, seemed evasive, was looking away from the Officers, and was breathing very heavily. ( Id. at 11-12).

The Officers asked Spack if there was anything illegal in the vehicle and Spack responded that he did not know because other people had used the Mitsubishi and could have left something in there. ( Id. at 12-13). Officer Filiowich asked Spack to clarify his response, but Spack persisted with his response of not knowing if there were illegal materials in the vehicle. ( Id. at 13). The Officers noticed a backpack in the rear seat and asked if the backpack belonged to Spack; Spack confirmed the backpack was his. ( Id. ). After Officer Filiowich asked Spack if he could look into the backpack, Spack reached into the rear seat to grab the backpack and threw the backpack on the front passenger seat, saying that he consented to Officer Filiowich looking in the backpack. ( Id. ). When the backpack landed on the front passenger seat, Officer Filiowich was able to see the contents of the partially open backpack with the aid of his flashlight; he saw a small, square, black scale with white powder on it. ( Id. at 14). Based on Officer Filiowich's training and experience, he believed without doubt that this object was a scale used for weighing narcotics. ( Id. ). Officer Filiowich announced to Officer Cragg what he saw in the backpack. ( Id. at 14-15). Officer Cragg then asked Spack if he had anything else illegal in the vehicle, to which Spack responded that there was a small bag of methamphetamine in the ashtray. ( Id. at 15).

The Officers removed Spack from the vehicle, and as Officer Cragg placed him in the back of the squad, Officer Filiowich began searching the vehicle. ( Id. ). Officer Filiowich found another digital scale in the backpack, a small glass pipe commonly used to smoke narcotics, and a small Ziploc bag from the ashtray that was suspected to contain methamphetamine. ( Id. at 16). The search next focused on the passenger seat and a loaded.38 revolver was found. ( Id. ). At this time, Spack was placed under arrest. ( Id. ). The Officers then transported Spack to be booked into jail. ( Id. ).

Spack gave an audio-recorded statement after being taking into custody and advised of his Miranda rights. ( Id. at 17-20). Spack also initialed and signed a Miranda form to acknowledge his understanding of his waiver of rights. ( Id. ). Spack agreed to speak with the Officers and gave a statement. ( Id. ).


Spack claims he was not given his Miranda rights as the circumstances required when he was questioned by the Officers while in his vehicle; therefore, he asserts, his statements to the Officers should be suppressed. (Spack's Mem. in Supp. at 5-8). Spack also argues that because his statements were made as a result of a custodial interrogation, the ...

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