United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Shreveport Division
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
L. HORNSBY, U.S. MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
S. Porter and Naquita N. Graves are charged with conspiracy
to distribute controlled substance and possession with intent
to distribute cocaine. The charges arise out of a traffic
stop on I-20 in Webster Parish, Louisiana. Before the court
are Defendants' Motions to Suppress (Docs. 32 and 33).
For the reasons that follow, it is recommended that the
motions be denied.
testimony at an evidentiary hearing together with the
audio/video recording of the traffic stop, established the
following facts. On August 20, 2018, Louisiana State Trooper
Christopher Perry was on stationary patrol on I-20 in Webster
Parish. A car approached him, and he noticed that it was
traveling more slowly than the traffic around it. Trooper
Perry let the car pass him, waited approximately one minute,
then pulled out to follow the car.
caught up to the car, Trooper Perry ran the license plate to
identify the owner. He saw that there were two people in the
car, the driver and a passenger. He also saw the car move
onto the solid white fog line on the right-hand side of the
interstate. He notified dispatch that he was making a traffic
stop, and he ran a check of the license plate on the car.
Perry learned the vehicle was a rental car. He then activated
his emergency lights to conduct the traffic stop.
Trooper Perry initiated his lights, his car's dashcam
automatically turned on. The camera backs up a period of
about 30 seconds before the lights are activated. The
violation that precipitated the traffic stop is not on the
video because it happened before that 30 second time frame.
However, Trooper Perry is heard on the video saying that an
improper lane use violation had occurred.
stopping the vehicle, Trooper Perry spoke with Porter, the
driver. Trooper Perry testified that Porter appeared nervous
because Porter would not look at him and looked away when
Perry asked direct questions. Porter said that he lived in
Houston. He told Trooper Perry that Graves (the passenger)
rented the car for about a week and came to Houston from
Mississippi to pick him up.
Perry then questioned Graves, the passenger, who said that
another friend had rented the car for her the day before as a
birthday present. Graves said that she and Porter both live
in Mississippi. She said that they drove together from
Mississippi to Houston the day before to eat dinner at
Pappadeaux's for her birthday. She said that they were on
their way back to Mississippi. While speaking to Trooper
Perry, Graves called her friend to get a copy of the rental
agreement, which showed that neither Porter nor Graves rented
the car, and neither was an authorized driver on the rental
Perry noted several factors that made him suspicious that
Porter and Graves were involved in criminal activity. The car
had been rented by a third party. The defendants were
traveling from Houston, a known narcotics source city. The
car was very clean and had only a Pappadeaux's doggy bag
in the backseat. The Defendants' stories about where they
lived and why they were traveling were totally inconsistent,
and Porter appeared unusually nervous when speaking with the
Perry returned to his vehicle to run the driver's license
and criminal background checks for Porter and Graves.
Porter's background check yielded an extensive criminal
history that included shoplifting, domestic violence, simple
assault, grand larceny, accessory after the fact, and traffic
requested backup so that he could ask for consent to search
the vehicle. Trooper Matt Titus, a canine handler, arrived.
Trooper Perry then asked Porter for consent to search the
vehicle. Porter consented to the search and signed a state
police consent to search form. Gov. Ex 2. Trooper Perry
conducted a search of the car and found $2, 647 in cash in
Graves' purse and approximately 10 kilograms of cocaine
in a suitcase in the trunk of the car.
and Graves were then placed under arrest. Trooper Perry read
them their Miranda rights, and they indicated that
they understood. Gov. Exs. 3 and 4.