Hennepin County District Court File No. 27-CR-15-17527
Swanson, Attorney General, St. Paul, Minnesota; and Michael
O. Freeman, Hennepin County Attorney, Linda K. Jenny,
Assistant County Attorney, Minneapolis, Minnesota (for
Cathryn Middlebrook, Chief Appellate Public Defender, Adam
Lozeau, Assistant Public Defender, St. Paul, Minnesota (for
Considered and decided by Peterson, Presiding Judge; Worke,
Judge; and Ross, Judge.
police stop and detain a person unconstitutionally and obtain
information that leads them to search the area, the district
court is not precluded from applying the
fruit-of-the-poisonous-tree doctrine and suppressing evidence
found during the search even if the defendant abandoned the
evidence before police began the unconstitutional detention.
Police officers following a car for turning without signaling
believed that one of its passengers-appellant Corey Davis
Jr.-had gotten out. An officer, who found it suspicious that
Davis looked toward him and then looked away before turning
to walk away, exited his squad car, approached Davis, grabbed
him by the arm, handcuffed him, and began questioning him.
After Davis commented about possessing drugs and being
impaired from a previous gunshot injury, officers searched
the area and discovered a handgun that they surmised Davis
had tossed away. Davis was charged with and convicted of
unlawful possession of a firearm. Because the officer had no
reasonable suspicion to stop and detain Davis, and because
the officers exploited the stop and Davis's incriminating
comments to decide to search the area, the district court
should have applied the fruit-of-the-poisonous-tree doctrine
and suppressed evidence of the handgun. We therefore reverse
Davis's conviction and remand.
officers Brandon Bartholomew and Brandy Steberg were
patrolling in north Minneapolis on a May 2015 morning when
they saw a Chevy Tahoe about two blocks ahead of them turn
without signaling. The officers momentarily lost sight of the
Tahoe, and when they saw it again, it was pulling away from a
curb. They saw a man, whom they later identified as Corey
Davis Jr., standing in a yard. Officer Bartholomew deduced
that Davis had been a passenger in the Tahoe. He saw Davis
"look away from" the officers "very quickly,
and also start walking very quickly away."
Bartholomew exited the squad car, and Officer Steberg
continued to follow the Tahoe. Officer Bartholomew told Davis
to stop. He then grabbed Davis by the arm, handcuffed him,
and ordered him to sit on the curb as he questioned him.
Davis said that a previous gunshot injury made it hard for
him to bend his leg. He also said "that he had marijuana
on him and that he had eaten it." And he suggested that
he was the subject of arrest warrants.
Steberg eventually returned, and the two officers searched
the area where they had first seen Davis standing. Officer
Steberg found a .38 caliber handgun in a bush. Davis's
fingerprints were on the gun, and the state charged him with
possessing a firearm as an ineligible person.
challenged the constitutionality of the stop and moved the
district court to suppress the evidence. The district court
held that Officer Bartholomew lacked reasonable suspicion
that Davis had committed any crime, and it therefore
suppressed Davis's statements made during his illegal
detention. But it denied Davis's motion to suppress
evidence of the handgun, finding that the officers'
decision to search the area rested on reasons other than
found Davis guilty. This appeal follows.
I. Did the district court clearly err by finding that the
officer did not base his decision to search the area on
information he obtained while he ...