State v. Carrawell, SC 94927

Citation481 S.W.3d 833
Decision Date12 January 2016
Docket NumberNo. SC 94927,SC 94927
Parties State of Missouri, Respondent, v. Derrick L. Carrawell, Appellant.
CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Missouri

481 S.W.3d 833

State of Missouri, Respondent,
Derrick L. Carrawell, Appellant.

No. SC 94927

Supreme Court of Missouri, en banc .

Opinion issued January 12, 2016
Rehearing Denied March 1, 2016

Carrawell was represented by Srikant Chigurupati of the public defender's office in St. Louis, (314) 340–7662.

The state was represented by Shaun J. Mackelprang of the attorney general's office in Jefferson City, (573) 751–3321.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri Foundation, which submitted a brief as a friend of the Court, was represented by Anthony E. Rothert, Andrew McNulty and Jessica Steffan of the ACLU of Missouri Foundation in St. Louis, (314) 652-3114, and Gillian R. Wilcox of the ACLU of Missouri Foundation in Kansas City, (816) 470-9933.

Zel M. Fischer, Judge

Derrick Carrawell appeals his conviction of the class C felony of possession of a controlled substance. § 195.202.1 A police officer searched a plastic grocery bag that Carrawell was holding after he was already handcuffed and seated in the police car and discovered heroin. Carrawell argues the circuit court erred and abused its

481 S.W.3d 836

discretion in overruling his motion to suppress evidence of the heroin because: (1) the State failed to show police had probable cause to arrest him for a peace disturbance, making the arrest unlawful, and (2) even if the arrest was lawful, the subsequent search of his plastic bag was unlawful. The circuit court's judgment is affirmed.

Factual and Procedural History

In April 2012, four City of St. Louis police officers went to investigate complaints of increased gang activity in a particular neighborhood. While the officers were speaking with several neighborhood residents outside an apartment building, Officer Curtis Burgdorf noticed a vehicle pull up nearby with the driver (Carrawell) staring at the officers for about 30 seconds before finally parking across the street. Carrawell then stepped out of the vehicle and, while staring at Officer Burgdorf, grabbed his crotch, spit in the officers' direction, and said, "What the fuck are you looking at, bitch?" Carrawell then went around to the passenger-side door of the vehicle, removed a white plastic grocery bag, and continued to utter vulgarities towards the officers.

Noticing that Carrawell's language was bothering the group of neighborhood residents (which included a young girl), Officer Burgdorf approached Carrawell and notified him he was under arrest for peace disturbance. Carrawell, with plastic bag in hand, continued to walk away from the officer. Officer Burgdorf followed and, as Carrawell attempted to open an apartment door, grabbed ahold of Carrawell. A struggle ensued as Officer Burgdorf attempted to handcuff Carrawell and repeatedly asked him to drop the plastic bag. Eventually, Officer Burgdorf was able to rip the plastic bag from Carrawell's hands and it fell to the ground, producing a "breaking" sound. Officer Burgdorf then completed the handcuffing process, picked up the bag, and escorted Carrawell to the police car. Another struggle ensued while attempting to place Carrawell in the police car, at which point Officer Burgdorf set the plastic bag on top of the car's trunk. After securing Carrawell in the police car, Officer Burgdorf—for the first time—looked into the plastic bag.2 Inside he discovered a broken ceramic plate and a smaller plastic bag containing a tan powder that Officer Burgdorf believed to be, and which was later confirmed to be, heroin.

Carrawell was charged with the class C felony of drug possession. Prior to trial, he filed a motion to suppress evidence of the heroin arguing that neither the arrest nor search of his plastic bag was lawful. The circuit court held a hearing on the motion and subsequently overruled it. The circuit court also overruled Carrawell's continuing objection, based on the reasons set forth in the motion to suppress, during trial. Carrawell was convicted and sentenced to 12 years' imprisonment. He then filed a motion for a new trial, which the circuit court also overruled. Carrawell now appeals, contesting the circuit

481 S.W.3d 837

court's ruling on his motion to suppress.

Standard of Review

"At a hearing on a motion to suppress, the state bears both the burden of producing evidence and the risk of nonpersuasion to show by a preponderance of the evidence that the motion to suppress should be overruled." State v. Grayson, 336 S.W.3d 138, 142 (Mo. banc 2011) (internal quotations omitted). "When reviewing the trial court's overruling of a motion to suppress, this Court considers the evidence presented at both the suppression hearing and at trial to determine whether sufficient evidence exists in the record to support the trial court's ruling." State v. Pike, 162 S.W.3d 464, 472 (Mo. banc 2005). "The Court defers to the trial court's determination of credibility and factual findings, inquiring only whether the decision is supported by substantial evidence, and it will be reversed only if clearly erroneous." State v. Goff, 129 S.W.3d 857, 862 (Mo. banc 2004) (internal quotations omitted). "By contrast, legal determinations of reasonable suspicion and probable cause are reviewed de novo. " Grayson, 336 S.W.3d at 142.


Carrawell argues evidence of the heroin in his possession should have been suppressed because his arrest and the search of his plastic bag were unlawful under the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution and article I, section 15 of the Missouri Constitution, both of which protect against unreasonable searches and seizures.3 "When evidence is obtained in violation of the Fourth Amendment, the judicially developed exclusionary rule usually precludes its use in a criminal proceeding against the victim of the illegal search and seizure." Illinois v. Krull, 480 U.S. 340, 347, 107 S.Ct. 1160, 94 L.Ed.2d 364 (1987). Carrawell asserts Officer Burgdorf did not have probable cause to arrest him for peace disturbance because Carrawell did not do anything calculated to provoke a "breach of the peace." He also asserts that the State failed to offer into evidence the city's peace disturbance ordinance under which Officer Burgdorf claimed to have arrested Carrawell. He argues that, because a court cannot simply take judicial notice of a municipal ordinance, there was no definition of "peace disturbance" before the circuit court by which it could determine whether there was probable cause to arrest him for the crime. Carrawell also argues that, even if the arrest was lawful, the search of his plastic bag was unlawful because Carrawell had not abandoned the plastic bag and the search did not qualify as a search incident to arrest. He further asserts that the search could not be justified under the inventory-search exception because the State failed to produce evidence that the police department had standardized criteria or established routine for opening closed containers in an inventory search.

Carrawell's Arrest Was Lawful

"An arrest with or without a warrant requires probable cause, which simply means a knowledge of facts and circumstances sufficient for a prudent person to believe the suspect is committing or has committed [an] offense." State v. Heitman, 589 S.W.2d 249, 253 (Mo. banc 1979).

481 S.W.3d 838

Although Carrawell focuses on Officer Burgdorf's testimony that he arrested Carrawell for violating the city's peace disturbance ordinance, this Court need not determine whether there was probable cause to arrest Carrawell for peace disturbance. This is because there was certainly probable cause to arrest Carrawell for resisting arrest. See § 575.150.1(1) (stating that a person commits the crime of resisting arrest when the person knows or reasonably should know that a police officer is attempting to arrest the person and the person resists the arrest "by using or threatening the use of violence or physical force or by fleeing from such officer").

Here, there was testimony that when Officer Burgdorf told Carrawell he was under arrest, Carrawell kept walking away, and that when Officer Burgdorf caught up to Carrawell, Carrawell continued to try to pull away from the officer's grasp. Notably, it is no defense to resisting arrest "that the law enforcement officer was acting unlawfully in making the arrest." Section 575.150.4. In determining whether Carrawell committed the crime of resisting arrest, therefore, there is no need to determine whether Officer Burgdorf could have lawfully arrested Carrawell for peace disturbance under the facts presented. For such purpose, it only matters that Carrawell indeed resisted an arrest, lawful or not. Because the evidence presented shows there was probable cause to conclude Carrawell resisted arrest, an arrest of Carrawell was lawful.4

The Search of Carrawell's Bag Was Not a Lawful Search Incident to Arrest, But the Exclusionary Rule Does Not Apply

Because Carrawell's arrest was lawful, the next question is whether the search of his plastic bag was lawful. Warrantless searches are per se unreasonable under the Fourth Amendment, unless an "established and well-delineated" exception applies. Katz v. United States, 389...

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