U.S. v. McMillian

Decision Date18 May 2006
Docket NumberNo. 05-CO-310.,05-CO-310.
Citation898 A.2d 922
PartiesUNITED STATES, Appellant, v. Daron McMILLIAN, Appellee.
CourtD.C. Court of Appeals

Lisa H. Schertler, Assistant United States Attorney, with whom Kenneth L. Wainstein, United States Attorney, and John R. Fisher, Assistant United States Attorney at the time the brief was filed, Roger L. Kemp and Lynn C. Mattucci, Assistant United States Attorneys, were on the brief, for appellant.

Samia Fam, Public Defender Service, with whom James Klein was on the brief, for appellee.

Before FARRELL and REID, Associate Judges and TERRY, Senior Judge.*

REID, Associate Judge:

In this case, appellee Daron McMillian has been charged with several crimes, including the murders of Ricardo Minnis and Burl Lawson on July 6, 2000. By separate indictment, he was charged with other crimes, including the murder of Charles Lesane on August 31, 2000. His arrest for all three murders took place on August 31, 2000, and he confessed to all three murders on that day. However, the July 6 and August 31 murders have been handled as separate cases. In the case involving the Lesane murder, Mr. McMillian filed a motion to suppress statements which he made to the police on the day of his arrest. The Honorable Shellie Bowers granted his motion in 2003, and the government did not file an appeal.

In the case before us, Mr. McMillian also filed a motion to suppress—on both Fourth and Fifth Amendment grounds— the statements he had made on the day of his arrest, and that motion was granted by the Honorable Rhonda Reid Winston after finding that Mr. McMillian had been unlawfully detained earlier that day. (The judge did not reach the issue of whether Mr. McMillian's statements had been obtained in violation of the Fifth Amendment.). The government filed an appeal. The government primarily argues that the trial court erred by (1) failing to apply the "collective knowledge" doctrine concerning the basis for stopping Mr. McMillian for investigation; and (2) applying a "simple `but for'" test to determine whether Mr. McMillian's statements that he committed the murders should be excluded from evidence under the "fruit of the poisonous tree" doctrine. Mr. McMillian argues that, having failed to appeal the decision granting his motion to suppress in the first case (the Lesane murder), the government is collaterally estopped from challenging his suppression motion in the second case (the Minnis/Lawson murders). We hold that the government was not collaterally estopped from litigating Mr. McMillian's suppression motion in this case because the ruling in the Lesane murder case did not constitute a final judgment, and because there are policy considerations unique to criminal cases that make application of that doctrine inappropriate here. We also hold that the trial court was correct in concluding that Mr. McMillian was illegally seized. Nevertheless, applying the attenuation doctrine to the particular facts of this case, we hold that the generation of probable cause to arrest Mr. McMillian within minutes of the detention broke the causal link between his illegal seizure and his confession.1


The record before us shows that Mr. McMillian was arrested on August 31, 2000, at approximately 2:35 p.m., and was later questioned about three murders (the Lesane, Minnis, and Lawson murders) between 6:30 p.m. on the same day, and continuing until 12:40 a.m. the following morning, September 1, 2000. At the suppression hearing in this case, held in February 2005, the government introduced the testimony of Sergeant Michael Dodgson of the United States Capitol Police ("Capitol Police" or "USCP"). Sergeant Dodgson and his partner, Officer Christopher Paradis were assigned to the K-9 patrol car. While they were placing the dog in their car, they "monitored a call on [a First District] [M]etropolitan [Police Department] radio that there was a shooting in the 900 block of 14th Street, Southeast." They needed gas for the car, and proceeded to a gas station at 4th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, in the Southeast quadrant of the District of Columbia. Their attention soon focused on another crime.

As Sergeant Dodgson and his partner were filling their vehicle with gasoline, a manager of a Kinko's reproduction center, located in the 300 block of Pennsylvania Avenue, Southeast, approached and informed them "that two individuals snatched a lady's purse at Kinkos [and that] some [of his] employees [were] chasing the individuals eastbound on Pennsylvania Avenue." The manager described the purse snatchers as "two black males [in their] twenties, ... [wearing] a black T-shirt and the other one a yellow T-shirt." He stated that one of the chasers returned to say that the men had "boarded a [M]etro bus heading westbound ... [on] Pennsylvania Avenue." When Sergeant Dodgson and his partner saw a stationary bus, in the westbound direction on Pennsylvania Avenue, they got into their vehicle, turned on the "emergency equipment" and drove in front of the bus so that it would not pull away from the curb. It was 2:26 p.m.

Sergeant Dodgson informed the bus driver about the purse snatching and asked him to keep everyone on the bus. The driver "misunderstood [Sergeant Dodgson] and told people to get off the bus." People began to get off the bus at 2:27 p.m. Approximately thirty passengers exited from the front door. The last person off the bus was Mr. McMillian who "probably stayed on the bus maybe 40 or 50 seconds after everybody else." The first person to leave the bus was an elderly lady, who walked away. Another female person, who had been seated next to the elderly woman on the bus, told the sergeant that the elderly lady "said to [her] that she witnessed a shooting in the Potomac Gardens area," which is the area a few blocks away from the 900 block of 14th Street, Southeast, in which Charles Lesane was murdered. Upon hearing this information, Sergeant Dodgson used his Capitol Police radio to request that the elderly lady be stopped.

While Sergeant Dodgson was trying to keep the bus passengers together, he "noticed" Mr. McMillian walking away and "went over to him and ... asked him to come back and just ... stick around for a little while [because he] wanted to talk to everybody...." Mr. McMillian complied. Sergeant Dodgson then returned to the female bus passenger to obtain "more information from her." When he realized that Mr. McMillian "was leaving a second time when everybody else was for the most part sticking around [and that he had reached] just beyond the bank at 6th and C Street," he proceeded to follow Mr. McMillian. As he did so, "another individual that was standing there stated to [him]...[,] be careful he's a bad ass." Sergeant Dodgson approached Mr. McMillian and said, "excuse me, ... I need your help.... I'm looking for two suspects that snatched a lady's purse, I know you were on that bus, if you would come back with me[,] ... I'll ask you a few questions and that will be it." Sergeant Dodgson spoke in a "firm" voice, but did not draw his gun. Mr. McMillian again complied with the sergeant's request. The two returned to the bus "side by side." By that time, most of the bus passengers had left the area, including the woman who had provided information about her elderly seat mate.

Around this time, which was approximately nine minutes from the time Sergeant Dodgson's vehicle positioned itself in front of the bus, Officer Pond of the Capitol Police had arrived. Sergeant Dodgson asked Officers Paradis and Pond to "keep an eye on [Mr. McMillian]...." The sergeant then boarded the bus, went to "the back of the bus about where [he] had seen Mr. McMillian sitting prior to [his] exiting the bus and [saw] a blue T-shirt sitting on the seat." The bus driver, who had followed Sergeant Dodgson, "said the guy that you brought back from behind the bank in the white T-shirt boarded my bus in the Potomac Gardens area and was wearing that shirt [meaning the blue T-shirt]." And, "at that point and time, [Sergeant Dodgson] thought that it's a possibility that Mr. McMillian could be the shooter," for the crime he was monitoring earlier. The bus driver said "when [Mr. McMillian] boarded the bus in the Potomac Gardens area he was wearing a blue T-shirt and he didn't pay the fare." When Mr. McMillian had exited the bus, he wore a white T-shirt. Sergeant Dodgson left the bus "and told Officer Paradis to handcuff Mr. McMillian." Sergeant Dodgson saw a Metropolitan Police Department ("MPD") officer, later identified as Sergeant Edward Smith, get on the bus, but apparently neither spoke at that time. Sergeant Dodgson asked Officer Paradis to secure Mr. McMillian.

Earlier on the same day, Sergeant Edward Smith, then attached to the MPD First District substation, had "monitored a radio run for . . . a shooting" in the 900 block of 14th Street, Southeast. The radio broadcast occurred around 2:27 p.m., and stated that "a possible suspect" was believed to be on a bus at 6th and Pennsylvania Avenue. He went to the location of the Metro bus and "observed two Capitol Police officers who were already there." Initially, he thought they also were investigating the shooting in the 900 block of 14th Street, S.E., but learned that they "were investigating a separate crime...." An officer was standing outside the bus "near a male subject," who "was standing in the tree box area that [was] almost directly in front of the front entrance or exit of the Metro bus." At approximately 2:32 p.m., Sergeant Smith learned from the bus driver that the man the Capitol Police had secured outside of the bus earlier "was moving around and up to something in the back of the bus and had in fact changed his clothes in the rear of the bus and left his shirt back there." The bus driver directed Sergeant Smith to the rear of the bus where Sergeant Smith saw "a dark blue shirt on the seat." There was...

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