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United States v. Hill

United States District Court, D. Minnesota

July 8, 2015

United States of America, Plaintiff,
v.
Leonard Dwayne Hill, Defendant.

Benjamin Bejar, Esq., Assistant United States Attorney, United States Attorney's Office, Minneapolis, MN, for Plaintiff.

Robert D. Richman, Esq., St. Louis Park, MN, for Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

ANN D. MONTGOMERY, District Judge.

I. INTRODUCTION

This matter is before the undersigned United States District Judge for a ruling on Leonard Dwayne Hill's ("Hill") Objection [Docket No. 63] to Magistrate Judge Steven E. Rau's June 26, 2015 Report and Recommendation [Docket No. 62] ("R&R"). In the R&R, Judge Rau recommends denying Hill's Motion to Suppress Statements, Admissions, and Answers [Docket No. 46] and Motion to Suppress Evidence Obtained as a Result of Search and Seizure [Docket No. 47]. After a thorough de novo review of the record and for the reasons stated below, Hill's Objection is overruled and Judge Rau's R&R is adopted.

II. BACKGROUND[1]

Near midnight on July 9, 2014, St. Paul Police Officers Michael Soucheray ("Officer Soucheray") and Chris Rhoades ("Officer Rhoades") responded to an emergency call of shots fired at Willard's Bar, located near North Grotto Street and Edmund Avenue West in St. Paul, Minnesota. The Officers arrived at the scene within minutes of the 911 call. Officer Soucheray entered Willard's Bar and Officer Rhoades walked south on North Grotto Street. Officer Rhoades located several 9-millimeter shell casings on the sidewalk near the bar, as well as additional casings further south.

Witnesses at the scene informed Officer Rhoades that two groups of people had been shooting at each other and had fled. One witness requested a private conversation with Officer Rhoades. This person informed Officer Rhoades that he had witnessed the "entire event" and that an individual Officer Rhoades had just spoken with had been with the shooter. Tr. Mots. Hr'g [Docket No. 61] ("Tr.") 16:15-16. The witness described the individual with the shooter as wearing a red shirt and shorts. The witness described the shooter as a heavyset black male with a red shirt. Finally, the witness informed Officer Rhoades that the shooter had opened the doors of a nearby parked van and said that "he was going to get more ammunition, and then closed the door." Id . 44:25-45:1.

While Officer Rhoades was talking with witnesses outside, Officer Soucheray was viewing surveillance footage inside Willard's Bar and was providing radio updates as he watched. The black and white video showed the area outside of the bar and filmed someone shooting a firearm. Officer Soucheray radioed that the shooter was a black male, probably with a heavy build, wearing a light-colored t-shirt, long shorts, sneakers, and no hat.

Officer Rhoades walked to the van identified by the witness and peered inside. While inspecting the van, Officer Rhoades noticed a man, later identified as Hill, walking nearby who fit the description of the shooter provided by the witness and corroborated by the video surveillance. Hill's walking pace and gait indicated to Officer Rhoades that the he was likely intoxicated. As Hill walked past, Officer Rhoades asked him how he was doing. Hill offered a slurred and unintelligible response. When asked where he was coming from, Hill responded that he was coming from a Wendy's restaurant. Officer Rhoades determined this response was suspicious because the nearest Wendy's restaurant was over a half-mile away and the individual was not carrying a food bag. Officer Rhoades then asked Hill why he was walking if the van was his, to which Hill responded that the van was in fact his.

At this point, Officer Rhoades believed Hill was the shooter. As Officer Rhoades was placing Hill in handcuffs, he noticed a bulge in Hill's front pocket. Officer Rhoades next conducted a open hand pat-down over Hill's outer clothing, starting with the bulging pocket. From the feel of the pat-down, Officer Rhoades surmised the pocket was full of loose rounds of ammunition. Officer Rhoades testified that he was able to make this determination based on his experience at the shooting range, and that he was "pretty familiar with what a pocket full of ammo feels like." Id . 26:15-17. Officer Rhoades eventually removed twenty-three rounds of 9millimeter ammunition from Hill's pocket.[2] Officer Soucheray conferred again with Officer Rhoades and "confirmed that the male... was the one he had seen on the surveillance footage." Id . 29:6-8.

III. DISCUSSION

A. Standard of Review

"A district judge may refer to a magistrate judge for recommendation a defendant's motion to dismiss or quash an indictment or information, a motion to suppress evidence, or any matter that may dispose of a charge or defense." Fed. R. Crim. P. 59(b)(1). In reviewing a magistrate judge's report and recommendation, the district court "shall make a de novo determination of those portions of the report or specified proposed findings or recommendations to which objection is made." 28 U.S.C. ยง 636(b)(1)(C); see also D. Minn. L.R. 72.2(b). ...


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