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United States v. Al-Amin

United States District Court, D. Minnesota

April 23, 2019

United States of America, Plaintiff,
v.
Syed Ben Al-Amin, Defendant.

          Jeffrey S. Paulsen, Assistant United States Attorney, United States Attorney's Office, Minneapolis, MN, on behalf of Plaintiff.

          Robert D. Richman, Esq., RD Richman Law, St. Louis Park, MN, on behalf of Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          ANN D. MONTGOMERY U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE.

         I. INTRODUCTION

         This matter is before the undersigned United States District Judge for consideration of Defendant Syed Ben Al-Amin's (“Al-Amin”) Objection [Docket No. 46] to Magistrate Judge Steven E. Rau's February 13, 2019 Report and Recommendation (“R&R”) [Docket No. 45]. In the R&R, Judge Rau recommends denying Al-Amin's Motion to Suppress Statements, Admissions, and Answers (“Motion to Suppress Statements”) [Docket No. 19], and denying Al-Amin's Motion to Suppress Evidence Obtained as a Result of Search and Seizure (“Motion to Suppress Evidence”) [Docket No. 20]. Also before the Court for consideration is the Government's Objection [Docket No. 48] to the R&R's definition of search incident to arrest. After a de novo review of the record, and for the reasons stated below, Al-Amin's Objection is sustained in part and denied in part. The Government's Objection is also sustained in part and denied in part. Al-Amin's Motions are denied for the reasons stated below.

         II. BACKGROUND

         A. Approach and Arrest

         On August 6, 2018, at about 1:24 p.m., Minneapolis Police Officer Paul Gillies (“Officer Gillies”) was dispatched to respond to a 911 call alleging a violation of a restraining order. December 20, 2018 Corrected Motions Hearing Transcript (“Tr.” and “Suppression Hearing”) [Docket No. 38] at 7. Officer Gillies was informed that a female caller had reported “her husband was following her in a car and that they had pulled over in the area of 12th and Fremont, ” id. at 8, a location in North Minneapolis.

         As Officer Gillies approached 12th and Fremont, he saw two cars parked, one “right behind” the other. Id. at 10. Al-Amin was standing outside the lead car's driver side window and was “yelling and screaming” at the occupant. Id. Officer Gillies witnessed Al-Amin punch the window. The driver of the car, later identified as Al-Amin's wife, responded by pulling her car forward, “probably 30 feet or so.” Id. at 11. Al-Amin walked back to the unoccupied second car[1] and climbed into the front passenger seat. Id. at 12.

         At this point, Officer Gillies' body camera recording is available to compare with his testimony. Gov't Ex. 1, at 18:27:26. The body camera shows Al-Amin in the passenger seat with the passenger side door still open. Id. at 18:27:28-33. Officer Gillies testified that he could see Al-Amin moving his arms inside the car and “frantically doing something” as Officer Gillies pulled up in the squad car. Tr. at 13. The bodycam footage shows Officer Gillies stop his vehicle, open the door, and point his firearm at Al-Amin. Gov't Ex. 1 at 18:27:26-32. There is no audio for this portion of the video. Within three or four seconds of when Officer Gillies opens his door Al-Amin exits his vehicle with his raised hands empty, shutting the passenger door once he is out. Id. at 18:27:32-36. Al-Amin then can be seen to turn and walk around to the driver side while still holding his hands raised. Id. at 18:27:37-49. Then Al-Amin leans over and opens the driver side door.[2] Id. at 18:27:50. Officer Gillies taps his body camera and the audio turns on. Id. at 18:27:56. Officer Gillies repeatedly yells for Al-Amin to “get on the ground.” Id. at 18:27:57-28:14. Al-Amin seems to reconsider getting into the driver side, pushes the door shut and walks away from the vehicle to the center of the road where he lays down. Id. at 18:28:05-14.

         At this point, Minneapolis Police Officer Ryan Keyes' (“Officer Keyes”) body camera shows that as he pulled up his squad car, Al-Amin walks away from his car and lays down. Def. Ex. 1 at 18:28:10-14. The officers then approach and Officer Keyes handcuffs Al-Amin. Id. at 18:28:26-35; Tr. at 48. Officer Gillies has a brief exchange with Al-Amin about Al-Amin punching the window of the first parked car. Def. Ex. 1 at 18:28:38. The officers arrest Al-Amin for violation of a no contact order and place him in the back of Officer Gillies' squad car. Def. Ex. 1; Tr. at 15, 17.

         B. Search

         After Al-Amin is secured in the squad car, Officer Gillies turns to his fellow officers and states, “He punched her window as I turned the car, ” and, “he tried to lock up the vehicle, and weird shit, dumping stuff out of his pockets.” Def. Ex. 1 at 18:29:33-42. Officer Gillies then approaches Al-Amin's wife, who is on the sidewalk after having walked from her vehicle back toward the scene. Gov't Ex. 1 at 18:29:49-53. Officer Gillies asks her if she “actually” has a restraining order. Id. at 18:29:50-53. The audio does not pick up her response, but Officer Gillies says, “oh, you both have one [, a restraining order]?” Id. at 18:29:55-57. Officer Gillies then walks toward Al-Amin's vehicle and states, “I just wanna see what he was dumping.” Id. at 18:30:05-07. Officer Gillies opens the defendant's car door and rummages around, first on the floor of the passenger compartment, then looking into the center console, and finally popping open the glove box. Id. at 18:30:12-40, 18:30:34 (when Officer Gillies touched the glove compartment). As Officer Gillies walks over to Al-Amin's car, Officer Keyes is told by Al- Amin's wife, that Al-Amin threatened to shoot out her car's tires and had a gun in his car. Def. Ex. 1 at 18:30:14. Officer Keyes asked, “where?” Id. at 18:30:17 Al-Amin's wife can be heard saying, “I don't know, ” but then she repeats the gun threat allegation. Id. at 18:30:17-29. Officer Keyes walks over closer to Al-Amin's vehicle and tells Officer Gillies, “...she says he's got a gun somewhere in the car, just so you know.” Id. at 18:30:29-32. Two to three seconds later, Officer Gillies can be heard saying, “found it. ” Id. at 18:30:39.

         C. Interrogation

         On August 7, 2018, Sergeant Jerod Silva (“Sergeant Silva”) interrogated Al-Amin while he was in custody. Gov't Ex. 2. The Government agrees to refrain from using Al-Amin's pre-Miranda statements to Sergeant Silva. But, Al-Amin also objects to the possible use of his post-Miranda warning statements, arguing that the pre-Miranda statements and the officer's actions surrounding them taints the post-statements. Therefore, the conduct of the interview will be considered.

         The videotaped interview shows Sergeant Silva enters the interview room at approximately 3:16:00. Gov't Ex. 2. Before Sergeant Silva is finished introducing himself and before he asks a single question, Al-Amin interrupts (3:16:52) Sergeant Silva and talks at him for seven minutes (3:23:54), whereupon, Sergeant Silva excuses himself for 15 minutes (until 3:38:52). Id. After the break, Sergeant Silva reenters the room and again Al-Amin talks at Sergeant Silva for almost an hour without questions (until approximately 4:32:00). At this point, Sergeant Silva interrupts Al-Amin to read him his Miranda warning. Al-Amin states, “So, this is where the official interview starts.” Id. at 4:32:46. Sergeant Silva asks for Al-Amin's full name and spelling, birth date, and other biographical data and then as he is about to be read his rights, Al-Amin interrupts Sergeant Silva again to tell him why he does not have a phone. Sergeant Silva reads the Miranda warning at 4:34:19. Al-Amin acknowledges the warning with a verbal “yes, ” indicating that he understands. After Al-Amin is Mirandized, the interrogation continues.

         III. DISCUSSION

         A. ...


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