United States District Court, D. Minnesota
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
Katherine Menendez United States Magistrate Judge.
matter is before the Court on two suppression motions filed
by Ryan Isiah Thompson: (1) Defendant's Pretrial Motion
To Suppress Statements, Admissions, Answers And Evidence That
Is The Fruit Of Such Statements, ECF No. 24; and (2)
Defendant's Pretrial Motion to Suppress Search and
Seizure, ECF No. 25. The Court held a hearing on these
motions on October 22, 2018, at which St. Paul Police
Officers Shawn Longen and Jason Whitney testified and the
Court received several exhibits into evidence. The parties filed
post-hearing briefing. For the reasons that follow, the Court
recommends that Mr. Thompson's motions be granted/denied.
Longen is assigned to a narcotics unit of the Ramsey County
Violent Crimes Enforcement Team (“VCET”) as a K-9
handler. Tr. 7:9-13. He investigates violent crimes and
narcotics-related offenses in the Twin Cities. Tr. 8:4-8. In
that role he began investigating Mr. Thompson's suspected
involvement in distribution of controlled substances in
February of 2018.
Whitney also works in the St. Paul Police Department as a K-9
officer and conducted a traffic stop of Mr. Thompson's
vehicle on May 6, 2018 at the direction of the VCET narcotics
unit. Tr. 58:10, 60:13-62:1. Both officers testified about
their involvement in the investigation of Mr. Thompson.
Meeting with Person ABC
February 11, 2018, Officer Longen was contacted by a
“concerned citizen” with information linking Mr.
Thompson, among others, to the distribution of heroin in St.
Paul. Tr. 8:16-22, 9:7-10:1. Officer Longen stated that when
ABC came to him with information, he “said he wanted to
do the right thing, ” and did not request any payment.
Tr. 46:6-13. Around March 7, 2018, however, ABC became a paid
informant. Tr. 8:25-9:2, 43:23-44:1. Sometime in mid-March,
ABC also told Officer Longen that he provided information
because he wanted Officer Longen to speak to his probation
officer about reducing his probation time. Tr. 52:6-11. ABC
has a criminal record and one of his convictions requires him
to register as a sex offender. Tr. 46:14-19.
their initial meeting, ABC told Officer Longen that Mr.
Thompson would often drive from St. Paul to Chicago to pick
up large amounts of heroin from a source there and bring it
back to the Twin Cities for distribution. See Tr.
10:2- 10; Tr. 63:2-7. ABC explained that Mr. Thompson would
also occasionally take the Megabus from the Twin Cities to
Chicago and back. Tr. 11:19-12:1. ABC said that Mr. Thompson
had been arrested in Illinois and Minnesota for drug-related
crimes. Tr. 12:2-5.
also told Officer Longen that Mr. Thompson was driving a
silver Saturn station wagon at the time, that the vehicle
would be parked at an apartment building on 677 Wells Street
where Mr. Thompson lived, and that Mr. Thomson had “a
couple firearms” that he kept at his apartment. Tr.
10:11- 11:4. He had also seen Mr. Thompson driving a green
Nisan Maxima with the license plate AKS 913. Tr. 11:5-13. ABC
shared some recent videos that ABC had taken of Mr. Thompson
in his apartment, and in the footage Officer Longen saw
stacks of money on a black case, a black handgun, and another
firearm that appeared to be a TEC-9 or MAC-10 style gun. Tr.
12:6-22. In the same videos, Mr. Thompson could be seen
sitting on a couch with baggies containing “what
appeared to be controlled substances sitting next to
him.” Tr. 12:6-16.
the initial meeting with ABC, Officer Longen attempted to
confirm the information he received. Officer Longen was able
to verify Mr. Thompson's age, which ABC had also
discussed. Tr. 13:16-20; see also Gov't Ex. 1 at
2 (indicating that a background check on Mr. Thompson
returned his date of birth, corroborating information
provided by ABC). He checked the license plate ABC provided
and learned that the green Nissan was registered to Mr.
Thompson, though it was registered at an address on Robert
Street, not Wells. Tr. 13:5-13. Officer Longen sent ABC an
unmarked picture of Mr. Thompson, which ABC confirmed was the
person he had identified as being involved in distribution of
heroin. Tr. 13:21-14:1. Officer Longen checked Mr.
Thompson's criminal history and verified that he had
arrests in Illinois and Minnesota for drug-related offenses.
Tr. 14:4-9. He also began conducting surveillance of the
apartment building at 677 Wells and saw Mr. Thompson driving
the green Nissan Maxima. Tr. 14:13-17.
State Patrol Traffic Stop and ABC's Recording
in February of 2018, ABC told Officer Longen that Mr.
Thompson had been stopped by Wisconsin State Patrol
(“WSP”). Tr. 14:23-15:1. Officer Longen contacted
WSP and verified that Mr. Thompson had been stopped on
February 26, 2018 while driving the green Nissan Maxima
eastbound on Interstate 94. Tr. 15:5-17. WSP arrested Mr.
Thompson for possession of marijuana and his car was towed.
after the WSP traffic stop, on February 27th or 28th, ABC
made a secret recording of a conversation he had with Mr.
Thompson. Tr. 15:21-24, 17:5-10. In that conversation, Mr.
Thompson discussed the WSP trooper making contact with him
during the traffic stop, explained that he had marijuana in
the car and on his person, and stated that the stop would
have been “much worse” for him “if he would
have had the work with him.” Tr. 16:1-12. Officer
Longen testified that “work” is a common term
used to describe drugs. Tr. 16:1-12. Mr. Thompson talked to
ABC about “licks, ” a term used to refer to
customers by a person who deals drugs, and “zips,
” which is a slang term for ounces. Tr. 16:1-12. He
also discusses having a “whoop, ” which is a
slang term for a gun, locked inside his glovebox at the time
of the WSP stop. Tr. 16:13-22. Mr. Thompson stated that on
his return trip, he was speeding, and if he had been stopped
again he would have told police that he was irritated by the
previous stop. Tr. 16:13-22.
28th Tracking Warrant and Order
on the information he had received from ABC and his own
corroboration of certain details, on February 28, 2018,
Officer Longen wrote an application for a search warrant to
place a GPS tracking device on the green Nissan Maxima. Tr.
19:14-23; Gov't Ex. 1. In the application for the
tracking warrant, Officer Longen explained that ABC, a
“Concerned Citizen, ” stated that Mr. Thompson
was involved in the sale and distribution of heroin.
Gov't Ex. 1 at 2. ABC knew Mr. Thompson's name,
approximate age, and provided a description of his
appearance. Id. Officer Longen explained that ABC:
(1) identified Mr. Thompson's silver Saturn vehicle; (2)
said that he lives at 677 Wells and uses the location to
store heroin; and (3) said that he is known to possess and
carry firearms. Id. Officer Longen also stated that
ABC said Mr. Thompson purchased a green Nissan Maxima and
used it to take trips to and from the Chicago area to pick up
heroin from a source. Id. The application states
that ABC knew details about Mr. Thompson's criminal
history, including drug-trafficking arrests in the Chicago
area. Id. at 2, 3.
Longen's affidavit describes the details he was able to
corroborate from ABC's statements. He confirmed the green
Maxima was registered to Mr. Thompson at a Robert Street
address. Gov't Ex. 1 at 2. He corroborated ABC's
information about Mr. Thompson's age and appearance.
Id. Officer Longen stated that surveillance at the
Wells apartment revealed that Mr. Thompson was driving both
the green Maxima and the silver Saturn station wagon, further
confirming information provided by ABC. Id. Officer
Longen was also able to verify that WSP had conducted a
traffic stop on February 26th and that Mr. Thompson was
arrested for possession of marijuana. Id. at 3. And
Officer Longen states that a criminal history check
corroborated information provided by ABC about arrests for
drug-related offenses. Id. Based on this
application, Ramsey County District Court Judge Joy Bartscher
authorized the installation of the GPS tracking device on the
green Maxima. Id. at 4. The warrant permitted the
tracking for a period of 60 days. Id. at 5. The
application for the GPS tracking device does not mention the
recording ABC made of his conversation with Mr. Thompson
following the stop by WSP. Nor does the application mention
the videos ABC provided to Officer Longen at their initial
February 28th, Officer Longen also wrote an application for
an “order authorizing the installation and use of a pen
register, trap device, and electronic tracking device”
on a cellular phone with the number ending in 0727. Tr.
19:14- 23; Gov't Ex. 2. The application for this order is
based on similar information from ABC that led to the
tracking warrant for the green Maxima. Id. at
3-4. Officer Longen's affidavit corroborated details ABC
provided about: (1) Mr. Thompson's name, age, and
appearance; (2) his vehicles; (3) his presence at the 677
Wells apartment; and (4) his criminal history. Id.
Officer Longen's affidavit states that ABC said Mr.
Thompson uses the 0727 phone number to conduct narcotics
trafficking and that he communicated with Thompson using that
number. Id. at 3. Officer Longen further states that
he checked the phone number through a police database that
showed it was registered to “Mike Jones” at a
non-existent address in St. Paul, but in his experience,
people involved in trafficking narcotics commonly use false
names and addresses to conceal their identities. Id.
at 4. Based on this information, Judge Bartscher issued the
Order authorizing the police to track the cell phone.
Id. at 6-7. This application does not mention either
the videos ABC provided to Officer Longen at their initial
meeting or the secret recording ABC made of Mr. Thompson
following the WSP traffic stop.
5th Traffic Stop
continued providing information to Officer Longen about other
individuals and Mr. Thompson on an ongoing basis through May
of 2018. Tr. 16:25-19:1. As to other targets, ABC provided
information that Officer Longen was able to verify, including
details regarding an individual who was being investigated by
the United State Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and
Explosives. Tr. 19:8-13. With respect to Mr. Thompson, ABC
gave Officer Longen updated phone numbers when Mr. Thompson
would change them. Tr. 19:2-6. ABC also discussed Mr.
Thompson's “day-to-day activities if he knew [Mr.
Thompson] was at a certain location....” Tr. 19:6-8.
told Officer Longen in early March of 2018 that he believed
Mr. Thompson was running out of product and would be making a
trip to Chicago to pick up heroin to bring back to the Twin
Cities. Tr. 21:1-7. The GPS tracking device that Judge
Bartscher had approved for the green Maxima was then placed
on the vehicle on March 4, 2018. Tr. 20:16-18. At 2:30 a.m.
on March 5, 2018, the GPS tracking device indicated that the
green Maxima was heading east on I-94 toward Chicago. Tr.
20:19-23, 21:8-12. When it arrived in Chicago, the vehicle
remained there for 20 minutes and then began heading west
back toward St. Paul. Tr. 21:13-24.
the vehicle might contain illegal drugs, St. Paul police
stopped the vehicle on I-94. Tr. 21:25-22:5. Officers had Mr.
Thompson exit the vehicle and called for a K-9 to sniff the
car. The dog alerted on an odor of marijuana in the center
console. Tr. 22:24-23:6. Law enforcement searched the car,
but did not locate anything of interest. Tr. 23:5-6. Nothing
was seized, and Mr. Thompson was allowed to leave. Tr.
March 6, 2018, ABC provided Officer Longen a recording of Mr.
Thompson discussing this traffic stop. Tr. 23:17-24. During
the 20-30 minute recording, Mr. Thompson states that he
believed he is under investigation and law enforcement may be
monitoring his phones. Tr. 24:3-11. Mr. Thompson discussed
his suspicion that people were informing on him and
distancing himself from people, including ABC. Tr. 25:16-19.
He also discussed “letting things cool off”
during a 90-day period that he believed law enforcement had
to investigate him. Tr. 25:19-22.
Thompson explained to ABC that he noticed surveillance
vehicles following him on I-94 because he had been speeding
and cars behind him were attempting to keep up. Tr. 24:11-17.
He stated that he attempted to exit on White Bear Avenue to
see if these other vehicles would follow him. Tr. 24:17-19.
Mr. Thompson also repeatedly discussed having “a
hundred on me, ” and questioned “what if law
enforcement would have found that.” Tr. 24:20-25:2. He
told ABC that he was worried when the dog alerted on the
vehicle and thought he would not see his family again.
However, he believed that the officer searching the vehicle
had been unable to find where the heroin was hidden because
he was wearing gloves. Tr. 25:3-11. Mr. Thompson also
discussed on the recording how good his product is and how he
can provide “the best dope for the cheapest
price.” Tr. 26:2-4. He described mixing drugs with
other substances to maximize profit. Tr. 26:4-9.
2nd Tracking Warrant and Order
told Officer Longen in early March that Mr. Thompson had
purchased a newer Nissan Maxima that was silver and had
tinted windows and that he obtained a new phone number ending
in 3045. Tr. 27:3-16. ABC said that Mr. Thompson left the
green Maxima in Chicago because the car had been stopped
twice. Tr. 27:3-9. Officer Longen contacted a person in the
United States Drug Enforcement Agency in Chicago, who
confirmed that the green Maxima was parked overnight at
addresses associated with Mr. Thompson in an area where a
gang called the “Four Corner Hustlers … is known
to control the distribution of heroin.” Tr. 28:22-29:5.
Officer Longen conducted surveillance again at the 677 Wells
apartment building and saw Mr. Thompson pull up behind the
building in a silver Maxima, exit the vehicle, and go into
the apartment. Tr. 28:6-13.
on this new information, Officer Longen applied for a warrant
to install a GPS tracking device on the silver Maxima and for
an order authorizing the tracking of the phone with the
number ending in 3045. Tr. 29:9-14; Gov't Exs. 1 & 2.
In the application for the silver Maxima tracking warrant,
Officer Longen repeats much of the information he learned
from ABC that led to the original tracking warrant for the
green Maxima. Gov't Ex. 3 at 2-3. Officer Longen also
shared the updated information he learned, including that:
(1) ABC told him Mr. Thompson had a newer silver Maxima with
tinted windows; (2) surveillance indicated Thompson drove the
vehicle to the 677 Wells apartment; and (3) the DEA confirmed
the green Maxima had been left overnight at addresses
associated with Thompson in an area controlled by gangs
involved in the distribution of heroin. Id. at 3.
This application did not mention the March 5, 2018 traffic
stop and search of the green Maxima that resulted in no
seizure of contraband. Judge Bartscher approved the GPS
tracking warrant on April 2, 2018, authorizing the
installation of the device and monitoring for a 60-day
period. Id. at 6-7.
application for an order authorizing tracking of the new
phone number ending in 3045 similarly repeated the
information Officer Longen obtained from ABC that led to the
previous phone tracking order. Gov't Ex. 4 at 2-4.
Officer Longen explained that ABC had changed his phone
number and began using the number ending in 3045 in
connection with the distribution of narcotics. Id.
at 3. The application also stated that a check of the number
in the police database showed it registered to “Mike
Jones, ” which was the same name associated with the
0727 number that was tracked pursuant to the February 28,
2018 order. Id. at 4. This application did not
include the new information Officer Longen learned from more
recent communications with ABC, nor the results of the March
5th traffic stop. On April 2, 2018, Judge Bartscher signed
the Order authorizing the tracking of the cell phone
associated with the 3045 number for a 60-day period.
Id. at 6-7.
Tracking and Surveillance
Longen placed a tracker on the silver Maxima on April 5th.
Tr. 31:12-14. On April 13th, Officer Longen saw that the
tracker went down to the Union Depot station in downtown St.
Paul and surveillance video that day showed that Mr. Thompson
boarded the Megabus bound for Chicago. Tr. 31:15-25. On April
16th, the tracker showed that the silver Maxima returned to
the Union Depot. Tr. 32:1-4. That afternoon, Mr. Thompson
returned from a bus trip, got in the Maxima, and left. Tr.
32:5-9. The tracker also showed that the silver Maxima
traveled to Chicago on April 20th and returned on April 22nd.
Tr. 32:10-17. Officer Longen did not arrange for another stop
of Mr. Thompson for either of these events because he did not
review the tracker data and surveillance video from the bus
trip until it was too late. Tr. 32:18-33:3.
1st or 2nd, officers conducted loose surveillance of Mr.
Thompson driving around in the silver Maxima. Tr.
33:12-34:14. Officers saw Mr. Thompson make several very
short stops at an intersection and at two different gas
stations. Tr. 33:13-23. They also observed him pull into a
Target store parking lot in Roseville for a short period of
time. Tr. 33:23-25. Mr. Thompson then drove to the Midway
Target in St. Paul, where he passed by the front of the store
very slowly, leading Officer Longen to conclude that he was
trying to see if anyone was following him. Tr. 33:25-34:12.
3rd, the GPS tracker showed that the silver Maxima drove back
to the Union Depot. Tr. 34:15-18. Officer Longen was
interested in this because he knew that Mr. Thompson took the
Megabus from Union Depot to Chicago, and suspected that he
picked up heroin on those trips to transport back to the Twin
Cities. Tr. 34:21-25. The phone tracker for the number ending
in 3045 was observed at the Union Depot as well, and then it
“pinged, ” indicating that it was heading toward
Chicago. Tr. 35:1-8. Further tracking of the phone indicated
that it remained in Chicago for a few days and then headed
back toward St. Paul along the I-90/I-94 corridor. Tr.
6th Traffic Stop
that Mr. Thompson would be returning to the Union Depot in
St. Paul carrying heroin he obtained in Chicago, on May 6,
2018, Officer Longen contacted other VCET members to set up
surveillance at Union Depot and waited for the Megabus to
arrive. Tr. 35:20-36:2. Mr. Thompson was seen getting off the
Megabus carrying a single sling-style bag that was “a
camouflage-tannish color.” Tr. 36:10-15. Around that
same time, the silver Maxima pulled into the parking area
below the Union Depot station, which officers saw was driven
by a female. Tr. 36:16-20. Officers saw Mr. Thompson get into
the driver's seat and the woman moved to the passenger
seat. Tr. 36:20-22. The vehicle then pulled away from the
Union Depot and headed out of downtown St. Paul. Tr. 37:1-2.
Longen had already decided to have the vehicle stopped and
searched. Tr. 36:3-9, 37:3-8. Officer Longen had made that
determination based on his cumulative investigation and he
intended the search to occur regardless of any alert from a
K-9 sniff of the vehicle. Tr. 39:10-23. In particular,
Officer Longen was aware that a Nissan Maxima has an empty
space underneath the center console that narcotics
traffickers can use to hide contraband and understood that if
heroin is not in a vehicle for very long, the odor may not
spread out in the vehicle enough for a dog to alert on its
presence. Tr. 39:24-40:25.
officers told Officer Whitney that they observed Mr. Thompson
getting off the Megabus and believed he was carrying a large
amount of heroin and was known to carry firearms. Tr.
38:4-14. They also told him that they were planning to search
Mr. Thompson and the vehicle. Tr. 39:5-13. After Officer
Whitney received the call from the VCET officers, he was near
the east side of St. Paul. Tr. 61:20-62:14. He drove down to
the area of the Union Depot so that he could conduct the
traffic stop. Tr. 62:19-23. Over the radio, he heard that the
Maxima left the Union Depot and was traveling over the
Kellogg bridge onto Third Street. Tr. 65:9-17.
caught up to the vehicle about 3 to 5 minutes after it left
the Union Depot and activated his emergency lights. Tr.
37:9-38:2, 65:20-66:11. The Maxima did not stop immediately,
but traveled at a slow pace for approximately a block after
he activated the lights. Tr. 66:6-13. Officer Whitney and
Officer Heroux, one of several other officers who arrived on
the scene, spoke to the two occupants of the vehicle, Mr.
Thompson and a woman identified as J.L.J., his significant
other. Tr. 67:21-68:11. Officer Whitney testified that his
goal during the interaction was to make Mr. Thompson feel
comfortable because he did not want the situation to
escalate, creating a threat to public safety. Officer Whitney
did this because he had been told about Mr. Thompson's
firearms history and suspected possession of narcotics. Tr.
68:16-24. Officer Whitney told Mr. Thompson that he was being
stopped for the tint on the vehicle's windows and because
the vehicle did not have license plates. Tr. 68:25-69:3.
Whitney asked Mr. Thompson where he was coming from. Tr.
68:25-69:3. Mr. Thompson stated that he had just dropped off
his child near Maryland and White Bear Avenue. Tr. 69:4-11;
Gov't Ex. 8 at 4-5. Mr. Thompson also mentioned that he
and J.L.J. were on their way to get coffee and something to
eat, but she wanted to change clothes before they did.
Gov't Ex. 8 at 6. Based on the information Officer
Whitney received about Mr. Thompson having gotten off the
Megabus and the Maxima having left the Union Depot, Officer
Whitney believed that Mr. Thompson was not telling the truth
about dropping off his child. Tr. 69:12-14.
Whitney had Mr. Thompson shut off the engine of the car and
step outside the vehicle. Tr. 70:8-19. He told Mr. Thompson
he was not under arrest and pat-searched him for weapons, but
he found only a phone and some
“blunts.” Tr. 70:22-71:1; Gov't Ex. 8 at 8. They
had a conversation about Mr. Thompson's claim that he had
just dropped off his child in an area that was far away from
the place he was stopped. Tr. 71:8-21, Gov't Ex. 8 at
the stop, Officer Whitney eventually asked Mr. Thompson if
there was anything illegal in the silver Maxima. Tr. 72:7-14;
Gov't Ex. 8 at 10. Mr. Thompson had not been read any
Miranda warnings at this point. Tr. 72:15-16.
Officer Whitney testified that he was concerned about the
contents of the vehicle because some heroin is laced with
fentanyl and because a gun in the vehicle creates a safety
concern. Tr. 72:17-73:1. Mr. Thompson said that there was
nothing illegal in the car. Gov't Ex. 8 at 10. At that
point, Officer Whitney went to speak to J.L.J., and asked her
if there was anything illegal in the car. Gov't Ex. 8 at
13. Officer Whitney had J.L.J. exit the vehicle and explained
to Mr. Thompson that he was going to have the dog go around
the car to see if it alerted. Gov't Ex. 8 at 14. Mr.
Thompson protested that there was an insufficient basis for
the dog to sniff the vehicle. Gov't Ex. 8 at 14-15; Tr.
the dog-sniff and before any officer went into the vehicle,
Mr. Thompson stated: “My girls have their guns
license.... She has a gun license.” Tr. 78:19-21;
Gov't Ex. 21. Officer Whitney asked if there was a gun in
the car, and Mr. Thompson stated: “Yeah, but she has a
gun license.” Tr. 78:22-23; Gov't Ex. 8 at 16.
Officer Whitney asked where the gun was, and Mr. Thompson
told him that “[i]t's in the front seat in her
bag.” Tr. 79:1-; Gov't Ex. 8 at 16. Officer Whitney
testified that he asked if there was a gun in the car because
Thompson said that his J.L.J. had a gun permit and asked
follow-up questions due to concerns for his own safety and
that of the other officers. Tr. 80:6-21.
Whitney then brought the dog around the car, but the dog did
not react in a way that indicated any controlled substance
was in the vehicle. Tr. 80:22-81:3. Nevertheless, Officer
Whitney entered the vehicle, looked in the sling-style bag
near the front seat, and found a TEC-9 firearm in it, along
with several other items. Tr. 80:24-81:6. Officer Longen
eventually arrived on the scene and located heroin that was
hidden near the center console, which Officer Whitney removed
from the vehicle. Tr. 82:20-83:11. Mr. Thompson was arrested.