Castle v. State, No. A-7093.

CourtCourt of Appeals of Alaska
Writing for the CourtMANNHEIMER.
Citation999 P.2d 169
PartiesDonald L. CASTLE, Appellant, v. STATE of Alaska, Appellee.
Decision Date05 May 2000
Docket NumberNo. A-7093.

999 P.2d 169

Donald L. CASTLE, Appellant,
v.
STATE of Alaska, Appellee

No. A-7093.

Court of Appeals of Alaska.

May 5, 2000.

Rehearing Denied May 31, 2000.


999 P.2d 170
Marcia E. Holland, Assistant Public Defender, Fairbanks, and Barbara K. Brink, Public Defender, Anchorage, for Appellant

W.H. Hawley, Assistant Attorney General, Office of Special Prosecutions and Appeals, Anchorage, and Bruce M. Botelho, Attorney General, Juneau, for Appellee.

Before COATS, Chief Judge, and MANNHEIMER and STEWART, Judges.

OPINION

MANNHEIMER, Judge.

On December 4, 1997, at approximately 3:30 in the morning, Fairbanks Police Officer Gary A. Yamamoto stopped a vehicle because one of its headlights was out. Donald L. Castle was a passenger in this car.

Officer Yamamoto questioned the driver, Michael Browning, and found out that Browning's driver's license was revoked. As Yamamoto was taking Browning into custody, Castle got out of the car and announced that he wanted to leave. Yamamoto directed Castle to get back in the car and stay there until the officer could interview him. Yamamoto then escorted Browning back to his patrol car. While Yamamoto's attention was focused on the driver, Castle walked away from the scene.

999 P.2d 171
After securing Browning in his patrol car, Yamamoto began driving through the neighborhood, searching for Castle. Yamamoto discovered Castle walking along the street, on the sidewalk. The officer pulled his patrol car alongside Castle and stated, "Sir, I need to talk to you for just a moment." At that point, Castle started running. Castle left the sidewalk and ran into the middle of the street, right in front of Yamamoto's patrol car. Yamamoto turned on his overhead lights and gave chase

Yamamoto followed Castle for approximately three blocks. Observing that Castle was beginning to tire, the officer pulled up next to Castle, rolled down his window, and gave Castle a push into the snowbank on the side of the road. Yamamoto then got out of his patrol car and chased Castle on foot. When the officer caught Castle, the two men grappled for a few minutes, but Castle eventually submitted.

Yamamoto handcuffed Castle and patted him down for weapons. Although he found no weapons, Yamamoto carried Castle back to the patrol car and searched him again for drugs. This search yielded several small plastic bags with white powder residue in them; this residue field-tested positive for cocaine. Yamamoto then arrested Castle. Castle subsequently pleaded no contest to fourth-degree misconduct involving controlled substances1, reserving his right to contest the legality of the stop that led to the discovery of the cocaine.2

On appeal, Castle renews his challenge to the legality of the stop, but he also disputes the intensity of the search that followed the stop. He points out that, during an investigative stop, an officer may engage in only a limited body search: a pat-down for weapons.3 Castle argues that even if Yamamoto was justified in making the stop, the officer nevertheless exceeded his authority when he searched Castle for drugs after the weapons pat-down yielded nothing.

This second argument concerning the intensity of the search is raised for the first time on appeal; Castle did not present it to the superior court. Accordingly, we decline to address it.4 We turn, instead, to the issue that Castle did preserve: the legality of the stop.

"[W]henever a police officer accosts an individual and restrains his freedom to walk away, [the officer] has `seized' that person" for purposes of the Fourth Amendment.5 Moreover, a police officer's conduct may be deemed a "restraint" of a citizen's freedom even when the officer does not use force. "[T]he question of whether an investigative stop occurred [hinges on whether] the challenged police conduct would lead a reasonable person to believe that the person was not free to leave."6 Because the average person often feels "an obligation to respond to [police] questions and not to walk away", a seizure occurs only when the police officer "add[s] to these inherent pressures by engaging in conduct which a reasonable [person] would view as threatening or offensive even if coming from another private citizen."7

For Fourth Amendment purposes, a seizure occurs whenever a police officer engages in "a show of official authority such that a reasonable person would have believed that he [or she] was not free to leave."8 The

999 P.2d 172
Alaska Supreme Court uses this same test when determining whether a seizure has occurred for purposes of the search and seizure clause of the Alaska Constitution (Article I, Section 14).9 Under this test, when a police officer instructs a person to sit in a patrol car, the officer "seizes" the person.10

That is what happened in Castle's case. When Castle announced that he intended to leave the scene, Officer Yamamoto responded by telling Castle to "hold on", to "have a seat in the car", and to wait there until the officer returned. We believe that a reasonable person in Castle's position would have interpreted this exchange as an exercise of authority—a directive to remain where he was until the officer allowed him to depart.

In his dissent, Judge Coats suggests that Yamamoto's response to Castle was only a request, not a command. He points out that, according to Yamamoto's testimony, his exact words to Castle were: "Why don't you have a seat in the car. I'll be right back with you." Judge Coats concludes that, given Yamamoto's phrasing, a reasonable person in Castle's position would not have believed that Yamomoto was ordering him to stay, but only asking him to stay—a request that Castle was free to honor or decline.

Given the circumstances in which Yamamoto and Castle exchanged these words, Judge Coats's interpretation of their conversation appears overly generous to the State. But even if we assume that Yamamoto's first words to Castle might reasonably be construed as a request rather than an order, there was no mistaking the tenor of Yamamoto's second colloquy with Castle. After Castle declined Yamamoto's "request" and walked away from the scene of the traffic stop, Yamamoto refused to accept Castle's decision. The officer hunted Castle through the neighboring streets, then pulled alongside Castle in his patrol car and told him, "I need to talk to you for just a moment." At this juncture (if not before), a reasonable person in Castle's position would believe that the officer was ordering him to stop and submit to questioning.

At that point, a seizure occurred—or, more precisely, a seizure would have occurred had Castle followed the officer's instruction. As it happened, Castle ignored the officer's order. The actual seizure occurred a few moments later when Yamamoto chased after Castle, blocked his path with the patrol vehicle, and wrestled him to the ground.

The State offers three rationales to support this seizure. First, the State argues that Castle was a witness to Browning's crime of driving with a revoked license. Second, the State argues that Castle's sudden exit from the car caused Yamamoto to reasonably fear that Castle might assault him. And third, the State argues that Castle himself committed a crime by running into the middle of the street. We discuss these three rationales in turn.

But before we begin those discussions, it is important to note an argument that the State has not raised. The United States Supreme Court has ruled that, in the interest of officer safety, police officers making a traffic stop have the authority to order the driver and the passengers out of the car, even when there is no articulable reason to fear that these people might assault the officer.11 Castle's case potentially raises a related but different issue: during a routine traffic stop, when there are no circumstances that would justify an investigative stop of the passenger, does a police officer nevertheless have the authority to order a passenger to remain in the car and not leave the scene? The United States Supreme Court has expressly refrained from deciding this issue.12

We note that the Washington Supreme Court and the Maryland Court of Appeals have ruled that police officers do not possess

999 P.2d 173
such authority.13 On the other hand, the Supreme Court of Illinois has ruled that police officers do have this authority, at least when the passenger engages in sudden movement that arouses a justified fear for the officer's safety.14

In the present case, the State does not argue that police officers have a general authority to detain passengers at the scene of a routine traffic stop. The State does argue that Castle's actions at the scene of the traffic stop raised a reasonable fear for Officer Yamamoto's safety, but, as explained below, the record does not support the State's assertion. Therefore, like the United States Supreme Court, we expressly do not decide the question of a police officer's authority to detain passengers at the scene of a routine traffic stop for no reason other than their presence as passengers in the car.

The State's argument that Yamamoto could stop Castle because Castle was a witness to a crime

The State contends that Officer Yamamoto was authorized to stop Castle because the officer knew that Castle was a witness to a crime—Browning's crime of driving with a revoked license. In Metzker v. State15 and in Beauvois v. State16, this court recognized the authority of the police to "approach and stop a person for the purpose of investigating a crime even though the officer has no reason to believe that the person stopped has committed the crime which is being investigated."17 However, the police are justified in stopping witnesses "only where exigent circumstances are present".18

The facts of Beauvois provide an illustration of the exigency required to support an investigative stop of a witness. In Beauvois, the police officer knew that a robbery had just occurred in the vicinity of a...

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16 practice notes
  • Perozzo v. State, Court of Appeals No. A-12967
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Alaska
    • 9 Julio 2021
    ...on appeal.5 See Cowles v. State , 23 P.3d 1168, 1170 (Alaska 2001).6 Waring v. State , 670 P.2d 357, 364 (Alaska 1983) ; Castle v. State , 999 P.2d 169, 171 (Alaska App. 2000) ; see Terry v. Ohio , 392 U.S. 1, 17, 88 S.Ct. 1868, 20 L.Ed.2d 889 (1968) ("It must be recognized that whenever a ......
  • Perozzo v. State, Court of Appeals No. A-12967
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Alaska
    • 9 Julio 2021
    ...on appeal. 5. See Cowles v. State, 23 P.3d 1168, 1170 (Alaska 2001). 6. Waring v. State, 670 P.2d 357, 364 (Alaska 1983); Castle v. State, 999 P.2d 169, 171 (Alaska App. 2000); see Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1, 17 (1968) ("It must be recognized that whenever a police officer accosts an individ......
  • State v. Dorey, No. 25938-2-III.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Washington
    • 26 Junio 2008
    ...justifying the stop of the truck driver as a witness to the crime. ¶ 27 After Metzker, the Alaska appellate court decided Castle v. State, 999 P.2d 169 (Alaska Ct.App.2000). There, a police officer stopped a driver whose vehicle had one of its headlights out. Id. at 170. The driver was take......
  • State v. Shearin, No. COA04-394.
    • United States
    • North Carolina United States State Supreme Court of North Carolina
    • 17 Mayo 2005
    ...officers may not, as a matter of course, order passengers in cars lawfully stopped to remain in the vehicles. See, e.g., Castle v. State, 999 P.2d 169 (Alaska Ct.App.2000) (reversing the defendant's conviction of misconduct involving controlled substances and suppressing cocaine evidence wh......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
16 cases
  • Perozzo v. State, Court of Appeals No. A-12967
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Alaska
    • 9 Julio 2021
    ...on appeal.5 See Cowles v. State , 23 P.3d 1168, 1170 (Alaska 2001).6 Waring v. State , 670 P.2d 357, 364 (Alaska 1983) ; Castle v. State , 999 P.2d 169, 171 (Alaska App. 2000) ; see Terry v. Ohio , 392 U.S. 1, 17, 88 S.Ct. 1868, 20 L.Ed.2d 889 (1968) ("It must be recognized that whenever a ......
  • Perozzo v. State, Court of Appeals No. A-12967
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Alaska
    • 9 Julio 2021
    ...on appeal. 5. See Cowles v. State, 23 P.3d 1168, 1170 (Alaska 2001). 6. Waring v. State, 670 P.2d 357, 364 (Alaska 1983); Castle v. State, 999 P.2d 169, 171 (Alaska App. 2000); see Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1, 17 (1968) ("It must be recognized that whenever a police officer accosts an individ......
  • State v. Dorey, No. 25938-2-III.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Washington
    • 26 Junio 2008
    ...justifying the stop of the truck driver as a witness to the crime. ¶ 27 After Metzker, the Alaska appellate court decided Castle v. State, 999 P.2d 169 (Alaska Ct.App.2000). There, a police officer stopped a driver whose vehicle had one of its headlights out. Id. at 170. The driver was take......
  • State v. Shearin, No. COA04-394.
    • United States
    • North Carolina United States State Supreme Court of North Carolina
    • 17 Mayo 2005
    ...officers may not, as a matter of course, order passengers in cars lawfully stopped to remain in the vehicles. See, e.g., Castle v. State, 999 P.2d 169 (Alaska Ct.App.2000) (reversing the defendant's conviction of misconduct involving controlled substances and suppressing cocaine evidence wh......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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