Boyle v. State, 21A-CR-686

Case DateFebruary 11, 2022
CourtCourt of Appeals of Indiana

Trent Howard Boyle, Appellant-Defendant,

State of Indiana, Appellee-Plaintiff

No. 21A-CR-686

Court of Appeals of Indiana

February 11, 2022

Pursuant to Ind. Appellate Rule 65(D), this Memorandum Decision shall not be regarded as precedent or cited before any court except for the purpose of establishing the defense of res judicata, collateral estoppel, or the law of the case.

Appeal from the Wells Circuit Court The Honorable Kenton W. Kiracofe, Judge Trial Court Cause No. 90C01-2002-F5-6


ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE Theodore E. Rokita Attorney General of Indiana Evan Matthew Comer Deputy Attorney General Indianapolis, Indiana



[¶1] Trent Howard Boyle appeals following the denial of his motion to suppress. He raises one issue for our review, which we revise and restate as whether the


officers' seizure of Boyle was reasonable under Article I, Section 11 of the Indiana Constitution. We affirm and remand.

Facts and Procedural History

[¶2] At approximately 11:00 a.m. on February 4, 2020, an anonymous person called 911 and reported that she observed Boyle and an individual identified only as "Megan"[1] "trading off drugs . . . in the parking lot" of a gas station located near the intersection of Main Street and Silver Street in Bluffton, Indiana. (State's Ex. 1a at 00:26-00:33). The caller explained Boyle handed Megan an unidentified object and Megan gave Boyle cash. The caller also stated that she used to work at the gas station, and she knew drug transactions frequently occurred there. She described Boyle as wearing a tan, camouflage jacket and relayed he was riding his bicycle away from the gas station. The caller called 911 again a short time later and reported Megan had walked down an alley behind the gas station and through the backdoor of a nearby house on Main Street.

[¶3] Several Bluffton Police Department officers responded to the dispatch regarding the suspected drug transaction, including Sergeant Mike Miller and Officer Greg Steele. The officers quickly found Boyle riding his bicycle southbound in an alleyway behind the gas station. When Boyle turned east out of the alley


onto Townley Street, Officer Steele started to follow Boyle in his patrol vehicle. Sergeant Miller was in a separate patrol vehicle, and he followed behind Officer Steele. Sergeant Miller recorded the subsequent encounter between Boyle and Officer Steele using his dashcam.

[¶4] Officer Steele came to a stop at Boyle's side near the intersection of Townley Street and Main Street. Boyle took one foot off its pedal and slowly pushed his bicycle toward Officer Steele's vehicle as Officer Steele started to get out of his vehicle. Boyle addressed Officer Steele, "You wanna talk to me?[, ]" and Officer Steele responded, "Yes, I do." (Tr. Vol. II at 29-30.) Boyle started to slowly ride away from Officer Steele across Main Street and then began to pick up speed as Officer Steele moved toward him. Boyle navigated around north and southbound traffic as he crossed Main Street and piloted his bicycle into the front yard of a nearby house. Officer Steele commanded Boyle to stop, and once Officer Steele caught up to Boyle, he tackled him.

[¶5] Sergeant Miller and the other officers on the scene then helped to subdue and handcuff Boyle. Boyle told the officers he had a glass pipe inside his pocket. The officers conducted a pat-down search of Boyle, and they discovered the pipe with residue inside it. Based on his training and experience, Officer Steele recognized the glass pipe as an instrument commonly used to ingest methamphetamine. The officers then transported Boyle to the Bluffton Police


Station. At the station, Boyle agreed to waive his rights pursuant to Miranda v. Arizona, [2] and two Bluffton Police Department detectives interrogated him.[3]

[¶6] On February 6, 2020, the State charged Boyle with Level 5 felony dealing in methamphetamine, [4] Level 6 felony possession of methamphetamine, [5] and Class C misdemeanor possession of paraphernalia.[6] On July 31, 2020, Boyle filed a motion to suppress the evidence obtained after the officers seized him. The trial court then held an evidentiary hearing on Boyle's motion to suppress on November 24, 2020.

[¶7] On February 5, 2021, the trial court entered an order with findings of fact and conclusions of law denying Boyle's motion to suppress. The trial court ruled the initial interaction between Boyle and Officer Steele was a consensual police encounter and reasonable suspicion sufficient to justify an investigatory stop arose once Boyle engaged in "headlong flight" by riding away from Officer Steele. (App. Vol. II at 30.) On March 4, 2021, Boyle petitioned for the order denying his motion to suppress to be certified for interlocutory appeal, and the


trial court certified its order on March 26, 2021. We then accepted jurisdiction over Boyle's interlocutory appeal.

Discussion and Decision

[¶8] Our standard of review following the denial of a motion to suppress is well-settled:

We review a trial court's denial of a defendant's motion to suppress deferentially, construing conflicting evidence in the light most favorable to the ruling, but we will also consider any substantial and uncontested evidence favorable to the defendant. Robinson v. State, 5 N.E.3d 362, 365 (Ind. 2014). We defer to the trial court's findings of fact unless they are clearly erroneous, and we will not reweigh the evidence. Id. When the trial court's denial of a defendant's motion to suppress concerns the constitutionality of a search or seizure, however, it presents a question of law, and we address that question de novo. Id.

Rutledge v. State, 28 N.E.3d 281, 287 (Ind.Ct.App. 2015).

[¶9] Boyle contends the trial court erred in denying his motion to suppress because he was within his rights to ride away from a consensual police encounter, and therefore, the officers violated Article I, Section 11 of the Indiana Constitution[7]


when they seized him. However, before assessing the reasonableness of the stop under the Indiana Constitution, we first address whether the initial encounter between Officer Steele and Boyle was a consensual encounter, [8] as the trial court found, or rather was an investigatory stop.

[¶10] The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution protects United States citizens from unreasonable search and seizure, and therefore, the amendment limits the investigative tactics law enforcement may employ. State v. Calmes, 894 N.E.2d 199, 202 (Ind.Ct.App. 2008). For instance, before police officers may arrest or detain a suspect for more than a short period of time, they must have probable cause the individual committed a crime. Id. Likewise, "pursuant to Fourth Amendment jurisprudence, the police may, without a warrant or probable cause, briefly detain an individual for investigatory purposes if, based upon specific and articulable facts, the officer has a reasonable suspicion that criminal activity has or is about to occur." Id. As our Indiana Supreme Court has observed, "[r]easonable suspicion is a 'somewhat abstract' concept that is not readily reduced to a 'neat set of legal rules.'" State v. Renzulli, 958 N.E.2d 1143, 1146 (Ind. 2011) (quoting U.S. v. Arvizu, 534 U.S. 266, 274, 122 S.Ct. 744 (2002)). It "entails something more


than an inchoate and unparticularized suspicion or hunch but considerably less than proof of wrongdoing by a preponderance of the evidence." Billingsley v. State, 980 N.E.2d 402, 408 (Ind.Ct.App. 2012), trans. denied.

[¶11] Here, an anonymous 911 call reporting suspected drug activity peaked the Bluffton Police...

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