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United States v. Jackson-Bey

United States District Court, D. Minnesota

April 9, 2018

United States of America, Plaintiff,
Taariq Kaaleeq Jackson-Bey, Defendant.

          Benjamin Bejar, United States Attorney's Office, for United States of America.

          James Becker, Office of the Federal Defender, for Defendant Taariq Kaaleeq Jackson-Bey.



         This matter came before the undersigned United States Magistrate Judge for a pretrial motions hearing on February 9, 2017. (Min. Entry Mot.'s Hr'g [Doc. No. 38].) The case was referred for resolution of pretrial matters pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636 and District of Minnesota Local Rule 72.1(a)(3)(A). This Court ruled on Defendant Taariq Kaaleeq Jackson-Bey's nondispositive motions in its February 16, 2018 Order [Doc. No. 45]. On March 7, 2018, following post-hearing briefing by the parties, the Court took under advisement Jackson-Bey's Motion to Suppress evidence obtained during traffic stops occurring on January 4, 2017 and April 13, 2017 [Doc. No. 35]. For the reasons set forth below, the Court recommends that the Motion to Suppress be denied.

         I. Procedural Background

         On June 22, 2017, Defendant Taariq Kaaleeq Jackson-Bey (“Jackson-Bey”) was charged with two counts of Felon in Possession of a Firearm and one count of Felon in Possession of Ammunition, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 922(g)(1) and 924(e)(1). (Indictment [Doc. No. 1].) At his June 29, 2017 arraignment, Jackson-Bey entered a plea of not guilty. (Arraignment Order [Doc. No. 13].) A short time later, on August 16, 2017, Jackson-Bey moved for a psychiatric examination and requested a hearing, if necessary, to determine whether he was competent to stand trial [Doc. No. 20]. The Court granted Jackson-Bey's motion and ordered that an examination be conducted. (July 17 Order [Doc. No. 21].) The results of that examination were submitted in a December 19, 2017, Forensic Report prepared by David M. Szyhowski, Psy.D., in which he concluded that Jackson-Bey does not suffer from any severe mental disease that impacts his ability to understand the legal proceedings or properly assist his counsel [Doc. No. 24]. Jackson-Bey opted not to request a competency hearing to dispute the report's findings. (Jan. 5, 2018 Letter [Doc. No. 26].)

         Jackson-Bey then filed eight discovery and evidence-related pre-trial motions, including the instant motion to suppress [Doc. Nos. 28-35]. The motion to suppress alleges that police officers unlawfully seized evidence during the January 4 and April 13, 2017, traffic stops in violation of his Fourth Amendment rights. The government called Saint Paul Police Officers Charles Lemon and Daniel Gleason to testify at the evidentiary hearing. (Min. Entry Mot.'s Hr'g [Doc. No. 38].) Jackson-Bey introduced three exhibits pertaining to the January 4, 2017, traffic stop: a map of the area where the traffic stop took place (Def.'s Ex. 1); Officer Lemon's Official Incident Report (Def.'s Ex. 2); and the dashboard camera video of the traffic stop (Def.'s Ex. 3).

         II. Relevant Factual Background

         A. January 4, 2017, Traffic Stop

         In the early morning of January 4, 2017, police officers Charles Lemon and Laurie Ueland were patrolling downtown Saint Paul in a marked squad car near the Dorothy Day Center, with Officer Lemon at the wheel. (Mot. Hr'g Tr. 12-14 [Doc. No. 42].) The area is depicted in Defendant's Exhibit 1, reproduced below:

         (Image Omitted)

         At around 2:00 a.m., while the two officers were in their squad car on St. Joseph's Lane, Officer Lemon noticed a Mercury Mountaineer SUV parked on the east side of the street facing northbound. (Id. at 14.) From a distance of about 150 to 200 feet, Officer Lemon observed the SUV “go into gear” and “abruptly drive forward” toward the intersection of St. Joseph's Lane and Exchange Street. (Id. at 14-15.) The intersection was controlled by a three-way stop sign. Officer Lemon observed the vehicle make a right-hand turn eastbound onto Exchange Street without coming to a complete stop at the stop sign prior to making the turn. (Id. at 15-16.) He testified this constituted a moving traffic violation, and that the road conditions at the time were clear; no snow, ice or other debris could have caused the vehicle to inadvertently slide through the stop sign. (Id. at 16.)

         Officer Lemon drove northbound on St. Joseph's Lane toward the intersection and watched as the SUV traveled halfway up the block on Exchange Street and turned left into the easternmost entrance of the semicircular drop-off area of St. Joseph's Hospital. (Id. at 16-17.) He did not see the SUV drop anyone off at the hospital. (Id. at 18:13-14.) He did not immediately stop the SUV, however, explaining that it would have been unsafe for him to do so in the hospital drop-off area. (Id. at 17:22-25.). (Id. at 17-18.) Instead, Officer Lemon moved his squad car to a position on the north side of Ninth Street, just short of and pointing toward the intersection with Exchange Street, from which he could look toward St. Joseph's Hospital and monitor the SUV in the driveway. (Id. at 17:18-20.) From that position, Officer Lemon observed the SUV start to pull out from the western entrance of the semicircular driveway with the right turn signal activated. (Id. at 18:16-18.) At that point, Officer Lemon testified, he made direct eye contact with the driver of the SUV. (Id. at 19:1-14; 40:9-41:3.) Officer Lemon stated that the driver began to pull forward with the right turn signal still blinking, then abandoned his apparent intention to turn right out of the hospital drop-off area and instead turned left onto Exchange Street, in the direction away from the squad car. (Id. at 19:1-4.) Officer Lemon testified that his line of sight to the SUV was unobstructed. (Id. at 19:17-19.) Based on the driver's decision to change directions after having seen the squad car, Officer Lemon believed the driver was being evasive. (Id. at 20:8-9) In addition, he concluded the driver had violated traffic laws by turning left without properly signaling his lefthand turn. (Id. at 30:8-15.)

         After the SUV turned left out of the hospital driveway, Officer Lemon activated his overhead lights, turned onto Exchange Street himself, and pulled the SUV over at the intersection of Exchange Street and St. Peter Street. (Id. 20:11-25.) Officer Lemon testified that two moving violations underlay the traffic stop - the failure to make a complete stop at the stop sign before turning from St. Joseph's Lane onto Exchange Street, and the failure to properly signal the lefthand turn from the St. Joseph's Hospital driveway onto Exchange Street. (Id. at 30:8-15.)

         Officer Lemon approached the driver's side of the SUV and for the first time recognized the driver as Taariq Jackson-Bey, whom he knew from several previous encounters. (Mot. Hr'g Tr. 21:5-15; Def.'s Ex. 2 at 6.) Officer Ueland approached the passenger's side of the vehicle, where Vincent Lindsey was sitting in the front passenger's seat. (Id. 20-21; Def.'s Ex. 2 at 6.) As Jackson-Bey rolled down the driver's side window, Officer Lemon smelled the odor of un-burnt marijuana emanating from inside the vehicle. (Mot. Hr'g Tr. 21:5-15.) Officer Lemon also observed Jackson-Bey pull a large amount of rolled-up cash from his pocket while he searched for his identification. (Def.'s Ex. 2 at 6.) Based on the smell of marijuana and the rolled-up cash, Officer Lemon believed criminal activity ...

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