United States District Court, D. Minnesota
Jeffrey S. Paulsen, United States Attorney's Office,
Minneapolis, Minnesota (for Plaintiff)
D. Richman, RD Richman Law, St. Louis Park, Minnesota (for
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
E. RAU, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
above-captioned case comes before the undersigned on
Defendant Syed Ben Al-Amin's Motion to Suppress
Statements, Admissions, and Answers (ECF No. 19) and Motion
to Suppress Evidence Obtained as a Result of Search and
Seizure (ECF No. 20). This matter was referred for resolution
of pretrial matters 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 the
motions be denied.
August 6, 2018, Minneapolis Police Officers Paul Gillies and
Ryan Keyes responded to a 911 call from a woman about her
husband following her. (December 20, 2018 Corrected Motions
Hearing Transcript (“Tr.”), at 7-8, ECF No. 38).
The caller was Al-Amin's estranged wife, Rachelle
Al-Amin. (Tr. 39). She stated she had a no-contact order
against Al-Amin and that he was following her car in his car.
(Tr. 8-9). Rachelle stated both parties had pulled over in the
area of 12th Avenue North and Fremont Avenue North, and that
she was sitting in her car. (Tr. 9).
Gillies arrived at the scene around 1:24 p.m. (Tr. 9).
Officer Gillies observed Al-Amin's car parked behind
Rachelle's car and saw Al-Amin standing by Rachelle's
car window “yelling and screaming at her.” (Tr.
10). Officer Gillies then saw Al-Amin punch the driver's
side window of Rachelle's car. (Tr. 11). Rachelle reacted
by driving her car forward “probably 30 feet or
so” and stopped her car again. (Tr. 11-12).
point, Al-Amin walked toward the passenger side of his car.
(Tr. 12). Officer Gillies got out of his squad car with his
gun raised and ordered Al-Amin to get out of the passenger
side of the car, put his hands up, and to come towards
Officer Gillies. (Tr. 12). Officer Gillies testified that
while giving orders, Al-Amin started “going through his
pockets” and it looked “like he was trying to
hide something.” (Tr. 13). Officer Gillies saw
“rapid movements with [Al-Amin's] arms” and
testified that Al Amin “was moving around frantically
inside the vehicle.” (Tr. 25). Officer Gillies thought
this lasted about thirty seconds but admitted the time-span
may have been shorter. (Tr. 13, 27). Officer Gillies
requested help with the situation. (Tr. 13-14). Al-Amin got
out of his car and walked around to the driver's side of
his car (Tr. 13). Officer Gillies was concerned Al Amin
“was going to drive away, or try and flee.” (Tr.
14). Officer Gillies had his gun out and was giving Al-Amin
orders to get out of his car while he was trying to get into
the driver's side of the car as well. (Tr. 14).
Keyes pulled up while Al-Amin was in the driver's side of
the car. (T. 39; Def. Ex. 1 at 1:19). Officer Gillies
testified he did not see Al-Amin reaching for the glove box
or making any movements suggesting he was hiding something
while on the driver's side. (Tr. 29). Officer Keyes
testified Al-Amin made furtive arm movements while on the
driver's side of the car and appeared to be trying to
hide something. (Tr. 45). Officer Keyes' body camera
footage briefly shows Al-Amin at the driver's side of his
car, but the dashboard and Officer Keyes' movements
prevents a viewer from seeing if Al-Amin made any arm
movements. (Def. Ex. 1 at 1:19). Officer Keyes parked
his car, drew his gun, and ordered Al-Amin to the ground.
(Tr. 39). Al Amin complied with the commands and laid on the
ground, and Officer Keyes handcuffed him. (Tr. 39). Officer
Gillies and Al-Amin had a brief exchange about Al-Amin
punching Rachelle's car window as he was being
handcuffed. (Gov't Ex. 1 at 01:12-01:27). Officer
Keyes and Officer Gillies arrested Al-Amin for violation of
the no-contact order and placed him in the back of Officer
Gillies' squad car. (Tr. 15, 17).
Al-Amin was secured, Officer Gillies inspected Al-Amin's
car “to see if he had dumped something in the
vehicle.” (Tr. 31). Officer Gillies also testified he
suspected Al Amin might have a gun because “he kept
moving around really quickly . . . like [he was] in a panic
mode.” (Tr. 16). Officer Keyes spoke with Rachelle
about the incident and Rachelle told him that Al-Amin
threatened to shoot her tires out with a gun. (Def. Ex 1).
Rachelle told Officer Keyes this between 3:25 and 3:36 on
Officer Keyes's body camera video. (Def. Ex.
At 3:39, the body camera shows Officer Gillies searching
Al-Amin's car, but the footage does not establish when
the search started. (Def. Ex. 1). Between 3:40 and 3:41,
Officer Keyes tells Officer Gillies that Rachelle stated
Al-Amin had a gun somewhere. (Def. Ex. 1). Between 3:48 and
3:49, Officer Gillies' tells Officer Keyes “I found
it, ” referring to Al-Amin's gun. (Def. Ex. 1).
Officer Gillies testified he began searching Al-Amin's
car before Rachelle's information was relayed to him, but
shortly after beginning the search, found a loaded revolver
in the glove box. (Tr. 33-34). Officer Gillies testified that
he did not perform an inventory search of the vehicle. (Tr.
August 7, 2018, Sergeant Jerod Silva interrogated Al-Amin
while he was in custody. (See Gov't Ex. 2).
Sergeant Silva interrogated Al-Amin for 78 minutes before
Mirandizing him. (Gov't Ex. 2, at 4:34). After
Al-Amin was Mirandized, the interrogation continued.
Motion to Suppress Evidence
argues the search of his car was unlawful because there was
no exception to the warrant requirement. Specifically,
Al-Amin states the search was not a search incident to
arrest, the automobile exception does not apply, and there
would not have been inevitable discovery of the gun. The
Government argues the opposite.
Fourth Amendment protects an individual's right to be
free from unreasonable searches and seizures. U.S. Const.
Amend. IV. Searches conducted without a warrant are per se
unreasonable, subject to a few well-established exceptions.
United States v. Hill, 386 F.3d 855, 858 (8th Cir.
2004). Under the automobile exception, officers may search a
vehicle without a warrant if they have probable cause to
believe the vehicle contains evidence of criminal activity.
Id. Probable cause exists “where, in the
totality of the circumstances, there is a fair probability
that contraband or evidence of a crime will be found in a
particular place.” United States v. Kennedy,
427 F.3d 1136, 1141 (8th Cir. 2005). In determining whether
an officer had probable cause to search, courts apply a
common sense approach and consider all relevant
circumstances. United States v. Gleich, 397 F.3d
608, 612 (8th Cir. 2005). Thus in the present case, the Court
considers whether the officers, under the totality of the
circumstances, had probable cause to believe Al-Amin's
vehicle contained evidence of criminal activity.
argues the circumstances here are like those in United
States v. Spinner, where the Court found no probable
cause for officers to search a car. 475 F.3d 356 (D.C. Cir.
2007). In Spinner, the police approached the
defendant to tell him his truck was illegally parked.
Id. at 357. As the officers approached, the
defendant dipped towards the center of his vehicle as if he
was trying to hide something. Id. Because the
defendant seemed nervous, officers frisked him and found
nothing. Id. at 359. Then, over the defendant's
objection, officers searched his truck and found a gun.
Id. The Government argued there was probable cause
to search the vehicle. Id. The Court disagreed and
found that while the officers may have thought the defendant
was hiding something, “they had no reason whatsoever to
believe it was a weapon. Therefore, when he denied them
further consent to search his vehicle, the encounter should
have ended.” Id. at 360.
present case, unlike Spinner, Al-Amin gave the
officers reason to believe he may be hiding contraband.
Al-Amin's car was not searched merely because he seemed
nervous, as was the case in Spinner. The officers
responded to a 911 call from a caller reporting a violation
of a no-contact order. (Tr. 7-8). Officer Gillies arrived on
the scene to see Al-Amin screaming at his wife and punching
her car window, and then saw Al-Amin walk back to his car and
get into the passenger side of his car. (Tr. 10-11). At this
point, Gillies ordered Al-Amin out of his car and Al-Amin
refused to comply with the order. (Tr. 12). Officer Gillies
testified that he next saw Al-Amin make furtive arm movements
on the passenger side of the car for approximately thirty
seconds. (Tr. 13, 25, 27). These facts, in their totality,
gave rise to probable cause; the circumstances established a
fair probability that Al-Amin may have hidden contraband in
Court does not consider Rachelle's information on
Al-Amin's threat to shoot her tires in the probable cause
analysis because it is unclear whether Rachelle's
information came before the search of Al-Amin's car
began. The body camera shows that Rachelle told Officer Keyes
about Al-Amin's threat to shoot her tires between 3:25
and 3:26. (Def. Ex. 1). Seconds later, at 3:39, the video
shows Officer Gillies searching Al-Amin's car when
Officer Keyes talks to Officer Gillies about Rachelle's
allegations. (Def. Ex. 1). The Government argues Officer
Keyes heard Rachelle's information at the exact moment
the search began. See United States v. Terry, 400
F.3d 575, 581 (8th Cir. 2005) (applying collective knowledge
doctrine to uphold seizure of ammunition by officer with no
personal knowledge that defendant was subject to protective
order restricting him from possessing ammunition). Al-Amin
argues Rachelle's information came after the allegedly
illegal search began. The Court cannot determine whether
Rachelle's information came before, after, or at the
exact moment Officer Gillies began searching Al-Amin's
car because the video footage does not show when Officer
Gillies began searching Al-Amin's car in relation ...