FROM JUVENILE COURT ORLEANS PARISH NO. 2016-203-05-DQ-B,
SECTION "B" Honorable Tammy M. Stewart, Judge
A. Cannizzaro, Jr. DISTRICT ATTORNEY Donna Andrieu, Chief of
Appeals ASSISTANT DISTRICT ATTORNEY Mithun Kamath ASSISTANT
DISTRICT ATTORNEY PARISH OF ORLEANS COUNSEL FOR
APPELLEE/STATE OF LOUISIANA.
Felix LOUISIANA CENTER FOR CHILDREN'S RIGHTS COUNSEL FOR
composed of Judge Daniel L. Dysart, Judge Regina Bartholomew
Woods, Judge Tiffany G. Chase
L. DYSART, JUDGE
result of a traffic stop of his mother on March 11, 2016,
D.P., who was fifteen at the time of his arrest, was charged
with violation of La. R.S. 40:966 E(1)(i), possession of
marijuana. On November 17, 2016, the trial court held a
hearing on the defendant's motion to suppress evidence,
and an adjudication of the charges against him. The trial
court denied his motion to suppress and found D.P. guilty as
charged. On January 19, 2017, the trial court sentenced D.P.
to fifteen days in custody, but suspended the sentence and
placed him on six months of probation.
appeals the adjudication arguing that the trial court erred
in denying his motion to suppress the evidence.
March 11, 2016, Detective Lawrence Weathersby, Jr., and
Sergeant Joseph Davis conducted a traffic stop at N. Rampart
and Flood Streets in New Orleans. While on patrol, the
officers observed a vehicle abruptly swerve to avoid
pedestrians in the street. The officers stopped the vehicle,
and Det. Weathersby approached the driver side and Sgt. Davis
approached the passenger side of the vehicle. Both officers
testified that as they approached, they smelled marijuana
coming from the vehicle. Det. Weathersby testified that at
that point what was initially a traffic stop became a
narcotics investigation. He advised the driver of her
Miranda rights, explaining that as her passenger was
her juvenile son, the rights extended to him. He asked
D.P.'s mother to produce her license, registration and
proof of insurance, at which time he noticed clear plastic
baggies in the glove box. Based on his experience, he asked
the driver if she had narcotics in the vehicle, to which she
responded by handing the detective a bag of marijuana that
was in her purse.
Weathersby stated that he initially told D.P.'s mother
that she would likely be issued a summons for possession of a
small amount of marijuana. However, after seeing the baggies,
Det. Weathersby suspected that there were more narcotics in
the vehicle. He ordered both the mother and son out of the
vehicle. Sgt. Davis handcuffed D.P.
further search of the vehicle revealed more narcotics. Sgt.
Davis testified that he could smell marijuana on D.P. As
narcotics and drug paraphernalia had been discovered in the
vehicle, Sgt. Davis patted D.P. down for weapons and
narcotics. He felt a small bulge in D.P.'s pocket and
heard the sound of cellophane or plastic. A search of
D.P.'s pocket revealed a bag of marijuana.
mother was placed under arrest for possession with intent to
distribute marijuana, and was transported to central lock-up.
D.P. was placed under arrest for possession of marijuana and
was transported to juvenile lock-up.
sole assignment of error, D.P. argues that the trial court
erred in denying his motion to suppress. Applied to the facts
of the case, the issue is whether the police officers had
reasonable suspicion to justify the pat-down of D.P., and