United States v. Logan, 051013 FED6, 12-1099

Docket Nº:12-1099
Opinion Judge:GRIFFIN, Circuit Judge
Party Name:UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. LEE ARTHUR LOGAN, Defendant-Appellant.
Judge Panel:BEFORE: COLE and GRIFFIN, Circuit Judges; and GWIN, District Judge. GWIN, District Judge, joined by COLE, Circuit Judge, concurring.
Case Date:May 10, 2013
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
 
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UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff-Appellee,

v.

LEE ARTHUR LOGAN, Defendant-Appellant.

No. 12-1099

United States Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit

May 10, 2013

NOT RECOMMENDED FOR FULL-TEXT PUBLICATION

ON APPEAL FROM THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE WESTERN DISTRICT OF MICHIGAN

BEFORE: COLE and GRIFFIN, Circuit Judges; and GWIN, District Judge. [*]

GRIFFIN, Circuit Judge

Defendant Lee Arthur Logan appeals his judgment of conviction and sentence for being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition, 18 U.S.C. §§ 922(g)(1) and 924(e), on the ground that the district court erred when it denied his motion to suppress certain evidence as fruits of an unlawful seizure under the Fourth Amendment. We hold that the officers had reasonable suspicion to initiate an investigatory stop at the point of Logan's seizure and, therefore, no Fourth Amendment violation occurred. Accordingly, we affirm.

I.

The events at issue in this case occurred on October 13, 2010, at approximately 10:30 p.m., on the north side of Kalamazoo, Michigan. Joseph Boutell, a public safety officer, was patrolling the streets by himself when he noticed a white Chevrolet Suburban parked in a vacant lot around the 600 block of Mabel Street, an area with a high incidence of drug trafficking and violence. The vehicle's headlights were off, but its interior dome light was on, and Officer Boutell estimated that four or five individuals were inside. In this same area, Officer Boutell has found individuals smoking marijuana and consuming alcohol. Officer Boutell believed that the individuals in the vehicle were trespassing.

Given the number of occupants, Officer Boutell drove past the lot without stopping and contacted two other public safety officers, Brian Veltman and Derek Weldon. He requested their assistance investigating a suspicious vehicle and asked them to meet him at a nearby location. All three officers were under the impression that the city owned the parking lot in question. In reality, however, the area was comprised of three separate lots, only one of which the city owned, and, as it turned out, the white Suburban was parked on private property.

The officers decided to enclose on the vehicle together. To gain a tactical advantage, the officers pulled into the parking lot with their emergency lights off, so as to take the occupants by surprise. As they neared, the officers shined their spotlights on the vehicle, another tactical advantage, designed to temporarily blind the occupants of the vehicle and as a measure of officer safety. The officers parked their patrol cars at a considerable distance from the vehicle (twenty to forty feet) and in a fashion that did not block the vehicle's means of egress from the lot. Officer Boutell planned to approach the driver's side of the vehicle, while Officers Veltman and Weldon planned to approach the passenger's side.

A man and a woman were standing outside the driver's side of the vehicle. Just as the officers emerged from their patrol cars, a man later identified as defendant Lee Logan quickly exited the vehicle from the front side passenger door. Officer Weldon drew his gun and ordered Logan back into the vehicle. Logan hesitated, unsure about what he wanted to do, and he "stutter stepped" back and forth. Logan's behavior indicated to Officer Weldon that he was likely trying to distance himself from contraband in the car.

At that point, Officer Veltman waved at Logan and said "come over here with me." Officer Veltman testified that Logan appeared uncomfortable and did not want to be by the passenger's seat. Officer Veltman asked Logan for his name. Asked whether he was in possession of any contraband, Logan responded that he was not, and he gave Officer Veltman consent to search his person. After discovering a bullet in the right pocket of Logan's jacket, Office Veltman placed Logan in handcuffs. As Officer Veltman suspected, Logan had given him a false name. Eventually, Logan told Officer Veltman his true identity, and the database indicated that there was a warrant out for his arrest.

Meanwhile, Officer Boutell engaged the man on the driver's side of the vehicle, identified as Zachary Jones. Jones was "not fully cooperative." Officer Boutell repeatedly told him to keep his hands out of his pockets. In light of Jones's nervous behavior and as a safety measure, Officer Boutell patted him down for weapons. Officer Boutell did not find any weapons on Jones's person. He also saw what appeared to be an open bottle of alcohol in the vehicle's console. He retrieved the bottle of gin from the vehicle and placed it on the hood of his patrol car. At this point, Officer Boutell believed that he had the authority to lawfully search the entire vehicle. In doing so, Officer Boutell found a loaded handgun under the front passenger's seat. The bullet found in Logan's pocket was a match.

Logan was charged in an indictment for being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition, 18 U.S.C. §§ 922(g)(1) and 924(e). Logan moved to suppress the bullet found on his person, the firearm found under the passenger's seat, and the warrant for his arrest as fruits of an unlawful seizure, in violation of his Fourth Amendment rights.

In its oral ruling from the bench, the district court first rejected the government's argument that the entire encounter was consensual; according to the court, when the three officers converged on the scene, a reasonable person would not have believed that he was free to leave or otherwise terminate the encounter. Next, with regard to the individuals on the driver's side of the vehicle, the court determined that they were seized at the outset by virtue of their acquiescence to the officers' demands. Logan, however, did not immediately submit to the officers' show of authority and, therefore, was not seized at the beginning of the encounter. Logan had been ordered to get back into the vehicle, he hesitated, he stutter stepped back and forth, indecisive about his next move, and finally he complied with Officer Veltman's request to "come over here with me." The district court concluded that, at that point, Logan was seized.

Regarding whether the seizure was supported by reasonable suspicion, the district...

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