State v. Culbreath, No. 23124

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
Writing for the CourtHARWELL; GREGORY
Decision Date01 November 1989
PartiesThe STATE, Appellant, v. Sidney Dwight CULBREATH, Respondent. . Heard
Docket NumberNo. 23124

Page 255

387 S.E.2d 255
300 S.C. 232
The STATE, Appellant,
v.
Sidney Dwight CULBREATH, Respondent.
No. 23124.
Supreme Court of South Carolina.
Heard Nov. 1, 1989.
Decided Jan. 2, 1990.

[300 S.C. 233] Atty. Gen. T. Travis Medlock, Asst. Atty. Gen. Harold M. Coombs, Jr., and Staff Atty. Miller W. Shealy, Jr., Columbia, and Sol. W. Townes Jones, IV, Greenwood, for appellant.

Theo W. Mitchell, Greenville, for respondent.

HARWELL, Justice:

This is a criminal case in which the State appeals from the trial court's findings that the police officer lacked probable cause to detain respondent Sidney Dwight Culbreath

Page 256

(Culbreath) and that cocaine found in his automobile was inadmissible evidence because it was not in plain view.

I. FACTS

On January 18, 1988, at approximately 1:00 a.m., Officer Kittles was patrolling alone when he observed a vehicle [300 S.C. 234] parked in a driveway at a residence. The vehicle's engine was running and an individual (Culbreath) was inside. Officer Kittles passed by the residence and vehicle three or four times throughout the night and each time the engine was running and someone appeared to be inside the vehicle. At about 3:00 a.m., Officer Kittles stopped and shined his automobile lights on the vehicle to see if everything was okay, but the person in the car did not move. Officer Kittles radioed his supervisor, who told Officer Kittles that because it was extremely cold, asphyxiation or carbon monoxide poisoning could be possible, and that he should check to make sure that everyone was alright.

Officer Kittles approached the vehicle. The window was rolled up and Culbreath did not respond when Officer Kittles spoke. He tapped on the window and motioned for Culbreath to roll down the window. Finally, after the second request, Culbreath rolled down the window. Officer Kittles asked Culbreath if he was alright and Culbreath became agitated and restless, telling Officer Kittles that he was on private property. Again, Officer Kittles stated that he was checking to see if Culbreath was okay because the car had been parked there for a long time. Culbreath became aggressive, said that everything was okay, and told Officer Kittles he had no right to be there and to leave.

Culbreath indicated that he did not live at the residence or know anyone living there. This, coupled with Culbreath's aggressive behavior caused Officer Kittles to believe some type of criminal activity was probably taking place. He asked to see some identification and Culbreath stated that he had a driver's license. At this time, Officers Owenby and Tolbert arrived and Officer Kittles asked them to approach the vehicle. Culbreath stated that he would show his driver's license to Officer Kittles, but that he was protesting Officer Kittles' stopping and talking to him. Officer Kittles asked to see his identification again. Culbreath did not produce any identification, but began fumbling in the center of the vehicle.

After the resident of the home told Officer Tolbert that she did not know Culbreath, Officer Tolbert approached the passenger side, shined a flashlight into the vehicle, and saw a package of cocaine in Culbreath's hand between his two [300 S.C. 235] fingers. Culbreath appeared to be trying to hide the package in the car console. About the same time Officer Kittles was asking Culbreath what he was doing in the console, Officer Tolbert said, "He's got cocaine, get him out of the car, he's trying to hide it." Officer Kittles asked Culbreath to exit his car, but he refused. Culbreath reached under the seat. Officer Kittles tried to open the door, but Culbreath grabbed the door handle and quickly rolled up the window. Again, Culbreath refused to exit the vehicle, so Officer Kittles grabbed his arm and forced him out of the car. Culbreath managed to shut and lock the door. Officer Kittles then looked through the window with his flashlight and clearly saw a small package containing white powder "[r]ight in plain view." Officer Kittles' testimony was unclear as to whether the cocaine was on or under the seat of...

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24 practice notes
  • Robinson v. State, No. 27357.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
    • June 30, 2014
    ...search of the car's trunk exceeded the scope of their permissible authority. The trial court, relying in part on State v. Culbreath, 300 S.C. 232, 387 S.E.2d 255 (1990), abrogated on other grounds by Horton v. California, 496 U.S. 128, 110 S.Ct. 2301, 110 L.Ed.2d 112 (1990), admitted all of......
  • State v. Pichardo, No. 4036.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
    • October 31, 2005
    ...a seizure for Fourth Amendment purposes. Florida v. Bostick, 501 U.S. 429, 111 S.Ct. 2382, 115 L.Ed.2d 389 (1991); see State v. Culbreath, 300 S.C. 232, 237, 387 S.E.2d 255, 257 (1990) ("Not all personal encounters between policemen and citizens involve `seizures' of persons thereby br......
  • State v. Brannon, No. 4428.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • July 18, 2008
    ...or are further aroused, the stop may be prolonged and the scope enlarged as required by the circumstances." State v. Culbreath, 300 S.C. 232, 236, 387 S.E.2d 255, 257 (1990), abrogated on other grounds by Horton v. California, 496 U.S. 128, 110 S.Ct. 2301, 110 L.Ed.2d 112 (1990). Even ......
  • State v. Twohig, No. 90-019
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Nebraska
    • May 10, 1991
    ...in the concourse of an Amtrak station and asked defendant questions which he voluntarily answered; no seizure); State v. Culbreath, 300 S.C. 232, 387 S.E.2d 255 (1990) (officer's request for defendant's identification and to see defendant's driver's license while defendant was seated in a p......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
24 cases
  • Robinson v. State, No. 27357.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
    • June 30, 2014
    ...search of the car's trunk exceeded the scope of their permissible authority. The trial court, relying in part on State v. Culbreath, 300 S.C. 232, 387 S.E.2d 255 (1990), abrogated on other grounds by Horton v. California, 496 U.S. 128, 110 S.Ct. 2301, 110 L.Ed.2d 112 (1990), admitted all of......
  • State v. Pichardo, No. 4036.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
    • October 31, 2005
    ...a seizure for Fourth Amendment purposes. Florida v. Bostick, 501 U.S. 429, 111 S.Ct. 2382, 115 L.Ed.2d 389 (1991); see State v. Culbreath, 300 S.C. 232, 237, 387 S.E.2d 255, 257 (1990) ("Not all personal encounters between policemen and citizens involve `seizures' of persons thereby br......
  • State v. Brannon, No. 4428.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • July 18, 2008
    ...or are further aroused, the stop may be prolonged and the scope enlarged as required by the circumstances." State v. Culbreath, 300 S.C. 232, 236, 387 S.E.2d 255, 257 (1990), abrogated on other grounds by Horton v. California, 496 U.S. 128, 110 S.Ct. 2301, 110 L.Ed.2d 112 (1990). Even ......
  • State v. Twohig, No. 90-019
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Nebraska
    • May 10, 1991
    ...in the concourse of an Amtrak station and asked defendant questions which he voluntarily answered; no seizure); State v. Culbreath, 300 S.C. 232, 387 S.E.2d 255 (1990) (officer's request for defendant's identification and to see defendant's driver's license while defendant was seated in a p......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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