United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Shreveport Division
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
L. Hornsby U.S. Magistrate Judge.
Gladney (“Defendant”) is charged with conspiracy
to possess with intent to distribute methamphetamine and
possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. Defendant filed
a motion to suppress evidence seized from him as well as
statements he made during and after a traffic stop. Doc. 26.
For the reasons that follow, it is recommended that the
motion to suppress be denied.
evidentiary hearing was held on Defendant's motion on
July 27, 2018. The evidence at the hearing, and the video of
the traffic stop, establishes the following facts. On October
27, 2017, the DEA asked the Louisiana State Police to watch
out for Defendant's car because the DEA believed that
Defendant may be transporting narcotics from Texas into
Louisiana. DEA wanted Defendant's car stopped if
independent probable cause was developed for the stop.
Matthew Titus parked on the left shoulder of the eastbound
lanes of I-20 just west of the rest area and welcome center
near the Louisiana/Texas border. When Defendant's car
passed Titus, the trooper pulled onto the interstate to
follow Defendant. However, Defendant quickly pulled into the
nearby rest area and stopped. Titus continued eastbound, just
beyond the rest area, and parked on the right hand shoulder
of the interstate.
bar was located on the roof of Titus' patrol vehicle.
Titus activated the light bar in such a manner that the
lights blinked sequentially in a right to left fashion,
indicating to approaching vehicles that they should move from
the right lane into the left lane. Govt. Ex. 1 (video of
similar light bar). Titus referred to this light as his
left the rest area and began traveling east bound again in
the right lane. He failed to move over to the left lane when
he passed Titus' patrol car. Titus then initiated a
traffic stop (at mile marker 4) for Defendant's failure
to yield to an emergency vehicle.
Titus approached Defendant (the sole occupant of the car) and
explained the purpose for the traffic stop (violating the
“move over law”). Titus asked for Defendant's
driver's license. Defendant produced a Louisiana
driver's license, but that license had expired several
years earlier. Defendant stated that he had previously been
unable to renew his license because of his child support
obligations, but he was on his way to the Department of Motor
Vehicles in Bossier City to obtain a valid license. Defendant
reported that he currently lived in Dallas, Texas.
also produced his vehicle's registration and told Titus
that the car was registered to his daughter, who lived in
Springhill, Louisiana. Trooper Titus reported that Defendant
seemed very nervous during their exchange and would not
maintain eye contact.
Titus returned to his patrol vehicle and began to research
Defendant's license and criminal history. He learned that
the license was not only expired, but suspended. During this
process, Titus learned that Defendant had multiple narcotics
arrests and a felony conviction for aggravated second-degree
battery. Trooper Titus was already suspicious of criminal
activity because of Defendant's travel itinerary
(traveling from his home in Dallas to renew a license in
Bossier City) and third party ownership of the vehicle.
Because Defendant had a history as a violent felon, Titus
called for backup.
about four minutes of research, Trooper Titus returned to
Defendant and asked him to step out of the car. Trooper Titus
informed Defendant that his license was suspended and asked
if someone could come pick up the car and him. Defendant said
he could get someone to do that. Otherwise, Titus testified
that he would have to have the car towed.
then told Defendant that I-20 was a “bad road”
and asked Defendant if he had drugs, large amounts of money,
or weapons in the car. Defendant responded that there was a
pistol under the front seat. Defendant admitted to Trooper