Dunson v. State, 49A04–1603–CR–469.

Docket NºNo. 49A04–1603–CR–469.
Citation64 N.E.3d 250
Case DateNovember 18, 2016
CourtCourt of Appeals of Indiana

64 N.E.3d 250

Charles DUNSON, Appellant–Defendant,
STATE of Indiana, Appellee–Plaintiff.

No. 49A04–1603–CR–469.

Court of Appeals of Indiana.

Nov. 18, 2016.

64 N.E.3d 251

Michael G. Moore, Indianapolis, IN, Attorney for Appellant.

Gregory F. Zoeller, Attorney General of Indiana, Ian McLean, Deputy Attorney General, Attorneys for Appellee.

BARNES, Judge.

Case Summary

1] Charles Dunson challenges his conviction for Level 5 felony carrying a handgun without a license. We affirm.


[2] Dunson raises one issue, which we restate as whether the trial court properly admitted into evidence a handgun seized during an investigatory stop.


[3] On November 20, 2014, officers from the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department were dispatched to the 2400 block of Kenwood Avenue after a number of 911 calls reported men with guns in the area. There was angry shouting audible in some of the calls, and one of the dispatches to police noted those sounds. The dispatchers also relayed reports from callers that there were thirty people gathering and that one caller reported someone was attempting to kick in his door.

[64 N.E.3d 252

4] Officer Matthew Addington and Deputy William Bennett responded to the dispatches and participated in a traffic stop involving someone thought to be involved in the incident. Meanwhile, Officers Tiffany Wren and Cathy Faulk also responded to the disturbance and spoke with Tamika Coleman, who was the victim of the altercation. Coleman was bleeding around her lips and nose, her nose appeared to be broken, and sections of her hair were torn out. Coleman's shirt was also torn, and there were footprints on her shirt. Coleman was "very upset, she was crying, she was agitated...." Tr. p. 152. While Officers Wren and Faulk talked to Coleman, a man drove past on a scooter or motorcycle, and Coleman indicated to the other nearby officers that he was "involved."1 Id.

[5] Officer Faulk issued a police radio broadcast indicating she had a "conscious and alert" female who was "bleeding from the face" and then stated "there's a "black male on a silver scooter, he's coming toward you; he may be involved" and described it as a "big scooter, looks like a motorcycle." Ex. 3, track 14. Officer Addington responded, "I see it. It's coming down Kenwood towards Twenty–Second," and then stated, "I have him detained." Id.

[6] After Dunson stopped his motorcycle, Officer Addington approached him and "noticed a bulge[ ] in [Dunson's] groin area ... there was a flat top to it with a shirt over top that. Ah, there's a larger bulge beneath that about the waist line a belt line of the pants of the driver." Tr. p. 67. Officer Addington believed the bulge was a weapon, and he patted Dunson down. Officer Addington discovered a 9mm Ruger in Dunson's waist band and seized it.

[7] The State charged Dunson with Class A misdemeanor carrying a handgun without a license and enhanced the charge to a Level 5 felony because Dunson had a prior conviction for the same offense. Dunson filed two motions to suppress, both of which the trial court denied following evidentiary hearings.

[8] Dunson was tried in a bifurcated bench trial. During the trial, Dunson challenged the admissibility of the handgun. The trial court overruled Dunson's objection, admitted the handgun into evidence, and found Dunson guilty of carrying a handgun without a license. Dunson stipulated to the Level 5 felony enhancement. The trial court sentenced Dunson to 2210 days in the Department of Correction. Dunson now appeals his conviction.


[9] Because Dunson appeals following trial and did not seek interlocutory review of the denials of his motions to suppress, the issue in this matter is "appropriately framed as whether the trial court abused its discretion by admitting the evidence at trial." Rhodes v. State, 50 N.E.3d 378, 381 (Ind.Ct.App.2016) (citation omitted), trans. denied. "We do not reweigh the evidence, and we consider conflicting evidence most favorable to the trial court's ruling." Id. We also consider the uncontested evidence favorable to the defendant.


[10] The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution generally prohibits a warrantless search or seizure absent a valid exception to the warrant requirement. Peak v. State, 26 N.E.3d 1010, 1014 (Ind.Ct.App.2015). A traffic stop is a seizure. Id. However, an officer may "stop and briefly detain a person for

[64 N.E.3d 253

investigative purposes if the officer has a reasonable suspicion supported by articulable facts that criminal activity may be afoot." Robinson v. State, 5 N.E.3d 362, 367 (Ind.2014) (quotations omitted) (citing United States v. Sokolow, 490 U.S. 1, 7, 109 S.Ct. 1581, 1585, 104 L.Ed.2d 1 (1989) ). "The existence of reasonable suspicion is determined by looking at the totality of the circumstances to see whether the detaining officer has a particularized and objective basis for suspecting wrongdoing." Peak, 26 N.E.3d at 1015. "The reasonable suspicion requirement is met where the facts known to the officer, together with the reasonable inferences arising from such facts, would cause an ordinarily prudent person to believe criminal activity has occurred or is about to occur." L.W. v. State, 926 N.E.2d 52, 55 (Ind.Ct.App.2010).

[Stops initiated pursuant to Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1, 88 S.Ct. 1868 [20 L.Ed.2d 889] (1968) ] are limited in scope and purpose. Their purpose is not to discover evidence of a crime, but to allow the officer to pursue his investigation without fear of violence.... Since reasonable suspicion is all that is necessary to support a Terry stop and it is a less demanding standard than probable cause ... [t]he Fourth Amendment requires [only] some minimal level of objective justification for making the stop.
11] Kellems v. State, 842 N.E.2d 352, 355 (Ind.2006) (second and third alterations in original) (citations omitted) (quotations omitted), reh'g granted on other grounds.

[12] Dunson contends the Terry stop in this case violated his rights under the Fourth Amendment2 because "[t]he stopping officers lacked reasonable suspicion to believe [he] was engaged in criminal activity prior to stopping him and any knowledge known to the investigating officer cannot be imputed on the stopping officer." Appellant's Br. p. 8. Dunson acknowledges that "information obtained by one investigating officer may be relied upon by other law enforcement officials called upon to assist in the investigation of a suspect" under the theory of "collective knowledge." Id. However, he contends that Officer Faulk's radio broadcast that Dunson "

‘may be involved’ is not specific and articulable enough to support the finding that the stopping offers had a reasonable suspicion that Dunson was involved in criminal activity." Id. at 10.

[13] Our supreme court has stated: "Information obtained by one officer may be relied upon by other law enforcement officials who are called...

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4 cases
  • J.G. v. State, Court of Appeals Case No. 49A02–1706–JV–1419
    • United States
    • Indiana Court of Appeals of Indiana
    • January 31, 2018
    ...1146 (Ind. 2011). The existence of reasonable suspicion is determined by looking at the totality of the circumstances. Dunson v. State , 64 N.E.3d 250, 253 (Ind. Ct. App. 2016).14] Here, the facts known to the officers who responded to the first dispatch at 1:30 a.m. were that two persons w......
  • Bell v. State, Court of Appeals Case No. 49A05-1606-CR-1390
    • United States
    • Indiana Court of Appeals of Indiana
    • July 14, 2017
    ...Richardson , 927 N.E.2d 379, 381 (Ind. 2010) (officer describing a "very large, unusual bulge" in defendant's pocket); Dunson v. State , 64 N.E.3d 250, 252 (Ind. Ct. App. 2016) (officer testifying he noticed a bulge in the defendant's groin area stated, "there was a flat top to it with a sh......
  • Dunson v. Smith, 2:17-cv-00520-WTL-DLP
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 7th Circuit. United States District Court (Southern District of Indiana)
    • July 25, 2018
    ...5 felony enhancement. The trial court sentenced Dunson to 2210 days in the Department of Correction.Dkt. No. 7-5 at 2-3; Dunson v. State, 64 N.E.3d 250, 251 (Ind. Ct. App. 2016) (footnotes omitted). Mr. Dunson appealed, arguing that the handgun was discovered as part of an illegal search in......
  • Schaeffer v. State, 21A-CR-1579
    • United States
    • Indiana Court of Appeals of Indiana
    • March 30, 2022
    ...Constitution generally prohibits a warrantless search or seizure absent a valid exception to the warrant requirement." Dunson v. State, 64 N.E.3d 250, 252 (Ind.Ct.App. 2016). However, "[a]n arrest without a warrant is proper when it is supported by probable cause[, ]" Jackson v. State, 597 ......

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