United States v. Amey, CRIM. ACT. 1:22-cr-9-TFM

CourtUnited States District Courts. 11th Circuit. United States District Court of Southern District of Alabama
Decision Date18 March 2022
Docket NumberCRIM. ACT. 1:22-cr-9-TFM



CRIM. ACT. No. 1:22-cr-9-TFM

United States District Court, S.D. Alabama, Southern Division

March 18, 2022



Pending before the Court is Defendant's Motion to Suppress Illegally Seized Evidence (Doc. 24, filed 2/18/22). The Government timely filed the United States' Response in Opposition to Motion to Suppress (Doc. 30, filed 3/11/12). After a careful review of the motion, response, and the applicable law, for the reasons stated below, the motion to suppress (Doc. 24) is DENIED.

I. Factual and Procedural Background

A. Procedural History

On January 26, 2021, the Grand Jury for the Southern District of Alabama indicted the defendant, Jarius Rashad Amey (“Amey” or “Defendant”). Count 1 of the Indictment alleges Amey unlawfully possessed a firearm because of his prior felony convictions in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1) and Count 2 alleges the firearm possessed by Amey in Count 1 had an obliterated serial number in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(k). See Doc. 1.

On February 18, 2022, Defendant filed the instant motion to suppress. See Doc. 24. The perfunctory motion provides that the crux of the Defendant's argument is the police lacked probable cause for the traffic stop; the traffic stop was unreasonably lengthened beyond the scope of the original traffic stop; and the ensuing search lacked probable cause - all in violation of the Fourth Amendment.

On March 11, 2022, the United States filed its response to the motion. See Doc. 30. In the


response, the United States asserts the initial consensual encounter resulted in the development of probable cause for the search of the vehicle and then even if the initial encounter constituted an investigatory stop, the police had reasonable suspicion to initiate it and that it was not unreasonably prolonged.

B. Factual Background Relating to Motion to Suppress

The facts leading to the search at bar are simple, straightforward, and essentially not in dispute as the encounter was recorded by law enforcement - both the original 911 call and the actual encounter with the Defendant. A copy of the bodycam and dashcam videos were attached as an exhibit to United States' response. Additionally, the United States provided a copy of the audio from the 911 call. See Doc. 30-1, Exhibits 1 and 2.

On Saturday, November 28, 2020, at approximately 3:45 a.m. Sergeant Daniel Hudson (“Hudson”) and Officer Erik Morris (“Morris”) of the Foley Police Department went to meet an off-duty police officer who earlier told the 911 dispatcher that he saw a speeding car he believed was driven by someone under the influence. Hudson met the off-duty officer in the parking lot of the Bay Villa Apartments in Foley, Alabama. The off-duty officer pointed out the suspicious car (a 2021 Silver Infinity JX35 with Alabama tags) and told Hudson the driver of the suspicious car was still inside the car.

Hudson drove up to the car and saw the head lights were off but the brake lights were on. Hudson walked toward the driver's door which opened when he got to the door. When the door opened, Hudson identified himself and told Amey, the sole occupant of the car, why he was there. Amey had a backpack in his hand. As he stood at the door, Hudson saw, what he recognized by training and experience, pieces of marijuana in the floor pan of the driver's seat. Possession of marijuana is against the law in Alabama thus Hudson detained Amey in handcuffs.


The ensuing search of the backpack revealed a plastic baggie of marijuana inside a glass jar with a metal lid and a pistol whose serial number was obliterated.

The officers placed Amey under arrest and issued the Miranda warnings which he chose to waive. Amey told the police he was returning home from a club in Mobile, Alabama. He also stated the firearm belonged to his cousin who asked Amey to keep it for him. Amey said he was on probation for robbery and assault and admitted he smokes marijuana and had been drinking alcohol.

II. Discussion and Analysis

The Court has discretion to determine whether a hearing is needed on a motion to suppress. United States v. Richardson, 764 F.2d 1514, 1527 (11th Cir. 1985). A hearing is not required on a motion to suppress if the defendant does not allege facts that, if proven, would require the grant of relief. United States v. Cooper, 203 F.3d 1279, 1285 (11th Cir. 2000); United States v. Sneed, 732 F.2d 886, 888 (11th Cir. 1984). In the case at hand, there are no allegations of falsity by the officers in the motion to suppress and the facts are essentially undisputed based on the video and audio. Therefore, the Court finds that no hearing is needed.

A. Standing

It is well established that for a defendant to move to suppress evidence, he must have standing. United States v. Eyster, 948 F.2d 1196, 1208-09 (11th Cir. 1991). A defendant has the burden of showing standing under the Fourth Amendment. United States v. Brazel, 102 F.3d 1120, 1147 (11th Cir. 1997). To claim the protection of the Fourth Amendment, an individual must have a “reasonable expectation of privacy in the invaded place.” Rakas v. Illinois, 439 U.S. 128, 143, 99 S.Ct. 421, 58 L.Ed.2d 387 (1978). A defendant's expectation of privacy must be “personal[]” and “reasonable, ” and it must have “a source outside of the Fourth Amendment, either by reference


to concepts of real or personal property law or to understandings that are recognized and permitted by society.” Minnesota v. Carter, 525 U.S. 83, 88, 119 S.Ct. 469, 142 L.Ed.2d 373 (1998) (internal quotation marks omitted). That said, “[s]tanding does not require an ownership interest in the invaded area.” United States v. Hernandez, 647 F.3d 216, 219 (5th Cir. 2011) (noting that the Supreme Court has recognized that an overnight guest in a home has a legitimate expectation of privacy in that home).

An individual has standing to challenge a search if “(1) he has a subjective expectation of privacy, and (2) society is prepared to recognize that expectation as objectively reasonable.” United States v. Harris, 526 F.3d 1334, 1338 (11th Cir. 2008) (citing United States v. Segura-Baltazar, 448 F.3d 1281, 1286 (11th Cir. 2006). Courts assess on a case-by-case basis the standing of a particular person to challenge an intrusion by government officials into an area over which that person lacked primary control. Oliver v. United States, 466 U.S. 170, 191 n. 13, 104 S.Ct. 1735, 80 L.Ed.2d 214 (1984). Moreover, the Eleventh Circuit has held that where a defendant is neither the owner nor the lessee of the place searched, in order to contest a search, he must “demonstrate a significant and current interest in the property at the time it was searched.” United States v. Miller, 387 Fed.Appx. 949, 951 (11th Cir. 2010) (citation and quotation omitted).[1]

No one contests Amey has standing and the Court determines that Amey clearly has standing to contest the search.

B. Lawfulness of the stop

The Court turns to the crux of Defendant's arguments - that the stop was unlawful because


it lacked reasonable suspicion and/or probable cause.

The Fourth Amendment guarantees “[t]he right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures.” U.S. Const. Amend. IV. Warrantless searches and seizures are per se unreasonable unless an exception applies. Arizona v. Gant, 556 U.S. 332, 129 S.Ct. 1710, 1716, 173 L.Ed.2d 485 (2009) (quoting Katz v. United States, 389 U.S. 347, 357, 88 S.Ct. 507, 514, 19 L.Ed.2d 576 (1967)). A seizure takes place “whenever a police officer accosts an individual and restrains his freedom to walk away.” United States v. Brignoni-Ponce, 422 U.S. 873, 878, 95 S.Ct. 2574, 45 L.Ed.2d 607 (1975).

However, not all interactions between law enforcement and citizens qualify as a “seizure[] of persons” triggering Fourth Amendment protections. Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1, n. 16, 88 S.Ct. 1868, 20 L.Ed.2d 889 (1968).

The Supreme Court has identified at least three separate categories of police-citizen encounters in determining which level of Fourth Amendment scrutiny to apply: (1) brief, consensual and non-coercive interactions that do not require Fourth Amendment scrutiny, Florida v. Bostick, 501 U.S. 429, 115 L.Ed.2d 389, 111 S.Ct. 2382 (1991); (2) legitimate and

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