278 F.3d 560 (6th Cir. 2002), 00-5528, United States v. Matthews

Docket Nº:00-5528
Citation:278 F.3d 560
Party Name:UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE, v. FRANK D. MATTHEWS, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.
Case Date:January 10, 2002
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
 
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Page 560

278 F.3d 560 (6th Cir. 2002)

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,

v.

FRANK D. MATTHEWS, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.

No. 00-5528

United States Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit

January 10, 2002

Argued: October 30, 2001

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee at Nashville. No. 99-00012--Aleta A. Trauger, District Judge.

Page 561

Counsel Argued: C. Douglas Thoresen, Federal Public Defender's Office, Nashville, Tennessee, for Appellant. Terry J. Haycox, Nashville, Tennessee, for Appellee. ON Brief: C. Douglas Thoresen, Federal Public Defender's Office, Nashville, Tennessee, for Appellant. Debra Teufel Phillips, Assistant United States Attorney, Nashville, Tennessee, for Appellee.

Before: Keith, Kennedy, and Batchelder, Circuit Judges.

Kennedy, Circuit Judge.

OPINION

Defendant appeals the denial of his motion to suppress evidence obtained incident to his arrest and his sentence imposed pursuant to the Armed Career Criminal Act (ACCA), making a Fourth Amendment argument as to the former and a Fifth Amendment argument as to the latter. After the denial of his motion to suppress, defendant pled guilty to possession of a firearm by a felon conditioned on his right to appeal the denial.

The standards of review for sentencing and suppression decisions are the same. We review district court findings of law de novo and findings of fact for clear error. See U.S. v. Guimond, 116 F.3d 166, 169 (6th Cir. 1997); U.S. v. Latouf, 132 F.3d 320, 331 (6th Cir. 1997).

Applying these standards of review, we affirm the district court's denial of the motion to suppress and the sentence imposed upon the defendant.

I. Factual Background

Because the district judge is in the best position to weigh the credibility of witnesses, we accept her version of the facts as being without "clear error" and recount them here. Indeed, the material facts are not in dispute.

On the night he was arrested, defendant was walking down Settle Court, a private street in a public housing project in Nashville, Tennessee. The project was in a high crime area. No-trespassing signs were posted on the property. On September 4, 1998 at 12:30 a.m., Officer Bryan Elston was patrolling the area and focused his attention on the defendant because the defendant appeared to be watching the police cruiser closely. App. at 186. From his marked police car, Officer Elston yelled to the defendant, "Hey, buddy, come here." App. at 187. The defendant quickened his pace. Officer Elston called out again and got out of his car. Defendant began to run, running to an apartment belonging to one Ms. Mayes, whom he did not know and by whom he was not invited. App. at 188. Ms. Mayes, who was standing in her doorway, was knocked down by his entry. App. at 188. Officer Elston tackled the defendant in the apartment. The gun was found under a piece of furniture in the apartment.

The district court found that while Officer Elston lacked reasonable suspicion to Page 562

conduct an investigative stop prior to calling to the defendant, the fact that the defendant committed crimes (assault, trespassing, etc.) during his flight provided the probable cause to arrest him and search his person. After the conditional guilty plea, the district court sentenced the defendant under the Armed Career Criminal Act, 18 U.S.C. § 924(e).

II. Suppression Order

We affirm the district court's decision to deny the defendant's motion to suppress the firearm found near his person. We agree with the district court that once he began to run, and committed the crimes of trespassing, breaking and entering, and assault, the defendant was subject to arrest and search. This finding is consistent with our holding in United States v. Pope, 561 F.2d 663, 668 (6th Cir. 1977) that "flight in the face of a clear showing of lawful authority supplie[s] . . . a reasonabl[e] susp[icion] that [the suspect] was engaged in...

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