United States District Court, M.D. Louisiana
RULING AND ORDER
JOHN W. DEGRAVELLES UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter comes before the Court on the Motion to Suppress
Evidence (Doc. 25) filed by Defendant David Jerome Smith. The
Government opposes the motion. (Doc. 28). On September 5,
2018, the Court held an evidentiary hearing. The parties then
submitted post-hearing briefs (Docs. 33, 37 & 38). After
careful consideration of the parties' arguments, the
facts in the record, and the applicable law, and for the
following reasons, the defendant's motion (Doc. 25) is
February 9, 2018, a security officer at the Cortana Mall in
Baton Rouge, Louisiana, called the Baton Rouge Police
Department (“BRPD”) and informed the dispatcher
that a customer reported seeing a black male with a black
jacket “waving” a firearm outside a mall entrance
and concealed it in his pants before entering the mall. (Doc.
30, Ex. 1). An eyewitness also called 911 and reported that
the suspect was wearing black and white sneakers, sagging
pants, and gray underwear. (Doc. 30, Exs. 2-A & 2-B). The
witness overheard the subject “say something about
robbing.” (Id.). BRPD officers were dispatched
to the mall. (Transcript of September 5, 2018 Hearing
(“Tr.”) at 19-24).
arrival, officers were informed that “[t]here was a guy
outside of the mall waving a gun talking about robbing
something, ” and that the subject was wearing
“sagging pants, grey underwear, and black and white
Nike shoes.” (Tr. at 24 & 41). After entering the
mall, a security guard informed the officers that the suspect
was in Sam's Jewelry Store. (Id. at 27).
Officers proceeded to the jewelry store and saw a person
standing at the counter who matched the description of the
suspect provided by mall security and the eyewitness.
(Id. at 27-28). At this point, officers detained the
defendant and discovered “a loaded Smith and Wesson 9mm
pistol concealed in his waistband” (Doc. 28 at 2; Tr.
Calls to Police Dispatch
September 5, 2018 evidentiary hearing, the Government
introduced recordings of two separate calls to BRPD on
February 9, 2018. One call was placed by mall security to
BRPD dispatch and stated that a customer reported seeing a
black male wearing a black jacket “waving” a gun
near once of the Cortana Mall entrances. (Doc. 30, Ex. 1).
The Government introduced two other recordings of a 911 call
placed by the eyewitness, who stated that she saw a black
male wearing black and white Nike sneakers, sagging pants,
gray underwear waving a gun near Entrance 3. (Doc. 30, Exs.
2A & 2B). The caller also stated that she heard the
suspect say “something about
robbing.” (Doc. 30, Ex. 2B).
Transmission of Information
Officer Antonio Williams (“Officer Williams”)
testified at the hearing that he was one of the officers who
responded to the Cortana Mall on February 9. Officer Williams
provided testimony regarding the information-sharing
procedure between BRPD dispatchers and its officers.
Dispatchers typically share information with officers through
the use of two-way radios and by messaging the officers on
the Computer Aided Dispatch (“CAD”) systems in
their police vehicles. (Tr. at 13-14).
February 9, Officer Williams received a CAD message from
dispatch for a Code Three situation at the Cortana Mall. (Tr.
at 18-19). A Code Three is the highest designation given to a
call and requires officers to “use lights and sirens
[and] get to the call immediately.” (Id. at
19). Code Three calls are urgent “[b]ecause there may
be a weapon involved or a possible life-threatening
occurrence there.” (Id.). For Code Three
calls, multiple officers must respond and at least two
officers are required to enter a building. (Id. at
19 & 32). The first entry on Officer Williams' CAD
system at 12:38 pm stated that mall security reported a
“subject waving a gun, entrance three.”
(Id. at 22). That message was followed by a request
for backup officers and a supervisor. (Id.). Next,
at 12:39, a message stated that mall security was looking for
the subject, who was wearing a black jacket. (Id.).
At 12:43, a message stated that a female witness went to the
mall's security office and reported seeing a “male
wearing black and white Air Nikes, sagging pants, gray
underwear showing, [and] was outside.” (Id. at
23). The subject was with another male and the eyewitness
heard “them say something about robbing, [but] she
didn't get the whole statement made.”
(Id.). At 12:46, mall security informed BRPD that
the subject was possibly in Sam's Jewelry Store.
Officer Williams was arriving at the mall at 12:43, he
possessed this information in addition to information
transmitted over his two-way radio. (Tr. at 23 & 34).
Thus, before he entered the mall, he was aware of “a
guy outside of the mall waving a gun talking about robbing
something” and a physical description of the subject.
(Id. at 24).