United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Shreveport Division
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
L. HORNSBY, U.S. MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
Robinson (“Defendant”) is charged in a three
count indictment with being a felon in possession of a
firearm, possession of marijuana with intent to distribute,
and possession of a firearm in furtherance of drug
trafficking. The charges arise out of a traffic stop by
Shreveport police for driving a vehicle without a license
plate. Before the court is Defendant's Motion to
Suppress. Doc. 22. For the reasons that follow, it
is recommended that Defendant's motion be denied.
evidentiary hearing was held on August 28, 2018. The evidence
at the hearing, including the dash camera recording (Ex. 2),
established the following facts.
Police Corporal Rodney Medlin was on routine patrol in a high
crime area of Shreveport when he saw a Ford car without a
license plate. Corp. Medlin initiated a traffic stop for a
violation of La. R.S. 32:53. Defendant was the driver of the
vehicle. There was one other passenger in the car.
Corp. Medlin activated his emergency lights and siren, he saw
the driver of the car reaching around under the front seat.
This caused Medlin to suspect there was a gun or other
illegal contraband under the front seat. The recorded audio
reveals that Medlin voiced concern about how long it was
taking for back-up to arrive. Video at 8:49:48.
Medlin approached the driver's side window of
Defendant's car and began to explain why he made the
traffic stop. Defendant immediately interrupted and
volunteered that he had just recently obtained liability
insurance on the car and that his registration, tags, and
license were at his home.
asked Defendant and the passenger if they had any
identification, guns, or anything illegal on them. They
stated that they did not. About this time, Corp. Michael
Schulz arrived for back-up. Both officers smelled a strong
odor of marijuana coming from the car. Defendant admitted
that they had recently smoked marijuana. Defendant and the
passenger appeared to be very nervous.
Medlin told Schulz that Defendant was reaching under the seat
during the stop, so Medlin wanted to see what was on the
floorboard. The officers asked Defendant and the passenger to
step out of the car. The officers patted the two men down for
officer safety. Once the men were removed from the car, the
officers commented that the strong odor of marijuana appeared
to be coming directly from the two men rather than from the
interior of the car.
Medlin handcuffed and placed Defendant in the back of
Medlin's patrol car. Medlin testified that he
Mirandized Defendant while he was doing the
Terry pat down. The audio does not reflect the
Miranda rights being given to Defendant. Medlin
testified that the body microphone will sometimes cut out due
to the interference with the microphone inside of the car.
Schulz confirmed that the officers' microphones will also
not pick up sounds sometimes due to inference with their
clothes. Schulz credibly testified that he heard Medlin read
the Miranda rights to Defendant during the pat down.
point during the stop, Corp. Medlin ran a computer check on
Defendant and his license. The court cannot determine when
that happened because the officers did not remember and the
audio does not refer to the computer check. Nevertheless,
Medlin told Defendant that he was being detained for no
license plate and driving with a suspended driver's
license. Exhibit 1 (citation); video 8:52:45. The passenger
was not handcuffed, but he was placed in the back of
Schulz's patrol car. The passenger was not
Mirandized at that time.
Medlin asked Defendant if there was anything in the car they
needed to worry about. Defendant shook his head as if to say
no. Medlin then asked Defendant if he had a problem with
Medlin looking in the car. Defendant said, “No
sir.” Video 8:52:49. Medlin told Defendant that if he
had a problem with the officers looking in the car, Medlin
would call a canine unit. ...