United States District Court, M.D. Louisiana
RULING AND ORDER 
A. JACKSON, CHIEF JUDGE
the Court is the Motion to Suppress (Doc.
14) filed by Defendant, Christopher Carter.
Defendant seeks to suppress the evidence seized during
warrantless searches that occurred on June 12, 2017.
(Id. at ¶ 2). The United States of America
("the United States") filed an Opposition. (Doc.
24). On February 26, 2018, the Court held an evidentiary
hearing on the motion, and permitted the simultaneous filing
of post-hearing briefs on the issue of standing only. (See
Docs. 32, 33). For the following reasons the Motion
to Suppress (Doc. 14) is DENIED.
12, 2017, officers with the Baton Rouge City Police
Department ("BRPD") effected a warrantless arrest
of Defendant at his grandfather's residence located at
2908 Tecumseh Street in Baton Rouge, LA. (Doc. 14 at ¶
2). At 10:35 p.m. on June 12, 2017, BRPD Officer J. Thomas
("Officer Thomas") along with Cpl. J. Migues were
dispatched to the 2900 block of Tecumseh Street pursuant to
an anonymous complaint that a silver Mercedes Benz automobile
had been involved in a shooting with a brown Chevrolet
Trailblazer. (Doc. 14 at ¶ 3; Doc. 14-1 at p. 7).
According to his report, Officer Thomas made contact with the
anonymous complainant "on the corner of Hiawatha and
Tecumseh" at approximately 10:40 p.m., at which time the
anonymous complainant advised that the residents of 2908
Tecumseh were involved in the shooting. (Id. at
¶ 4; Id. at ¶ 2). According to his report,
while speaking with the complainant, Officer Thomas observed
a silver Mercedes pull into the driveway of 2908 Tecumseh,
with several subjects exiting the vehicle and entering the
residence. (Id.). During the hearing, Officer Thomas
testified that he could not identify all of the occupants of
the vehicle except for the Defendant, who had obvious neck
tattoos, and stood out by walking slowly from the vehicle,
rather than scurrying quickly like the other occupants. (Doc.
33 at p. 5). Officer Thomas further testified that he
observed Defendant stepping out of the front right passenger
door. (Id.). Officer Thomas then called for other
officers to assist him. (Doc. 14 at ¶ 4).
Officer Thomas called for assistance, he approached the
residence "to investigate the scene." (Id.
at ¶ 5). As Officer Thomas approached the front door, he
allegedly observed spent shell casings on the ground.
(Id.). Defendant's grandfather, who was the
owner of the residence and the silver Mercedes Benz
automobile, Mr. Claudius Price ("Price"), exited
the front door, at which time Officer Thomas ordered Price
and "the rest of the subjects inside the residence to
stay inside." (Id.). All occupants of the
residence complied. (Id.).
Thomas reported that he then "checked the 2007 Mercedes
Benz, " which he noted was unlocked, "for evidence
relative to the shooting." (Id. at ¶ 6).
While "checking" the Mercedes Benz automobile,
Officer Thomas claimed to have observed, in "plain view,
" a silver firearm "placed in between the driver
seat and the center console." (Id. at ¶ 6;
Doc. 14-1 at ¶ 5). Officer Thomas removed the firearm
from the vehicle and began running a weapons check on the
firearm. (Id.; Doc. 14-1 at p. 8). While running the
weapons check, Officer Thomas instructed Corporal Daniels
("Cpl. Daniels"), who had arrived on scene, to
further search the vehicle for additional evidence, at which
time Cpl. Daniels allegedly located a second firearm, that
is, the subject firearm-a Glock, Model 26, 9mm caliber,
semi-automatic pistol, bearing serial number YHY921, and
ammunition, that is, 28 rounds of WIN 9mm (not fully loaded
with bullets)-beneath the front passenger seat. (Id.
at ¶ 7; Doc. 14-1 at ¶ 1).
Thomas then searched the vehicle a third time. (Doc. 14 at
¶ 8). During this third search, Officer Thomas claimed
to have found Defendant's identification card in the
glove compartment on the passenger side of the vehicle.
(Id.). A criminal records check revealed that
Defendant had a prior felony conviction for Simple Robbery in
2013. (Id.). Defendant was thereafter promptly
arrested, without a warrant, on the instant charge.
September 28, 2017, Defendant was charged by the grand jury
with possession of a weapon and ammunition by a convicted
felon in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1). (Doc. 1).
On October 25, 2017, Defendant filed the instant Motion to
Suppress Evidence with Supporting Memorandum and Request for
Evidentiary Hearing. (Doc. 14). On December 18, 2017, the
United States filed the first of two motions to continue
(Docs. 18, 20) as well as a response to Defendant's
motion to suppress on February 21, 2018. (Doc. 24). On
February 26, 2018, the Court held an evidentiary hearing
addressing whether Defendant has standing to challenge the
warrantless search of the Mercedes Benz automobile owned and
registered to Price, the Defendant's grandfather.
well established that "searches conducted outside the
judicial process, without prior approval by judge or
magistrate, are per se unreasonable under the Fourth
Amendment-subject only to a few specifically established and
well-delineated exceptions." Arizona v. Gant,
556 U.S. 332, 338 (2009) (quotation marks omitted) (quoting
Katz v. United States, 389 U.S. 347, 357 (1967)).
Generally, "[t]he proponent of a motion to suppress has
the burden of proving, by a preponderance of evidence, that
the evidence in question was obtained in violation of his
Fourth Amendment rights." United States v.
Kelley, 981 F.2d 1464, 14G7 (5th Cir. 1993) (quoting
United States v. Smith, 978 F.2d 171, 176 (5th Cir.
1992)). However, in cases where a search is not conducted
pursuant to a warrant, the Government bears the burden of
proving that the search was valid. United States v.
Waldrop, 404 F.3d 365, 368 (5th Cir. 2005) (citing
United States v. Castro, 166 F.3d 728, 733 n.6 (5th
standing is a central component of Fourth Amendment
jurisprudence. United States v. Powell, 732 F.3d
361, 374 (5th Cir. 2013). "Fourth Amendment rights are
personal rights which, like some other constitutional rights,
may not be vicariously asserted." Id.; see also
Rakas v. Illinois, 439 U.S. 128, 133-34 (1978) (quoting
Brown v. United States, 411 U.S. 223, 230 (1973))
(citations omitted). Therefore, "[a] person who is
aggrieved by an illegal seai'ch and seizure only through
the introduction of damaging evidence secured by a search of
a third person's premises or property has not had any of
his Fourth Amendment rights infringed." Id.
(citing Alderman v. United States, 394 U.S. 165, 174
United States argues that the Court should deny
Defendant's motion to suppress on the grounds that
Defendant lacks standing under the Fourth Amendment to
challenge the seizure of the Glock 9mm pistol and ammunition
seized from the 2007 Mercedes Benz automobile in which he was
merely a passenger. (Doc. 33 at p. 1). Defendant contends
that he had a reasonable expectation of privacy in his
grandfather's vehicle because he was free to use the
vehicle any time he wanted and he kept personal property
(i.e. his identification card) in the vehicle. (Doc.
32 at p. 4).
Supreme Court has established a two-pronged test for
determining whether a defendant has standing to bring a
Fourth Amendment challenge to an allegedly illegal search:
"Such a determination depends on (1) whether the
defendant is able to establish an actual, subjective
expectation of privacy with respect to the place being
searched or items being seized, and (2) whether that
expectation of privacy is one which society would recognize
as [objectively] reasonable."United States v.