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United States v. Robinson

United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Shreveport Division

September 5, 2018

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
v.
BRYAN THOMAS ROBINSON

          HICKS CHIEF JUDGE

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          MARK L. HORNSBY, U.S. MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         Introduction

         Bryan 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.

         Factual Background

         An evidentiary hearing was held on August 28, 2018. The evidence at the hearing, including the dash camera recording (Ex. 2), established the following facts.

         Shreveport 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.

         When 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.

         Corp. 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.

         Medlin 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.

         Corp. 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.

         Corp. 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.

         At some 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.

         Corp. 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. ...


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