United States v. Betts, 032720 FED6, 19-3163

Docket Nº:19-3163
Opinion Judge:CHAD A. READLER, CIRCUIT JUDGE.
Party Name:UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. MICHAEL BETTS, Defendant-Appellant.
Judge Panel:BEFORE: STRANCH, READLER, and MURPHY, Circuit Judges.
Case Date:March 27, 2020
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
 
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UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff-Appellee,

v.

MICHAEL BETTS, Defendant-Appellant.

No. 19-3163

United States Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit

March 27, 2020

NOT RECOMMENDED FOR PUBLICATION

ON APPEAL FROM THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF OHIO

BEFORE: STRANCH, READLER, and MURPHY, Circuit Judges.

CHAD A. READLER, CIRCUIT JUDGE.

A police dog alerted officers to the presence of contraband in Michael Betts's vehicle. An ensuing search uncovered drugs, a firearm, and a loaded magazine. Following his indictment for drug and firearm crimes, Betts sought to suppress the evidence discovered in his vehicle, contending that the officers violated his Fourth Amendment rights by prolonging a routine Terry stop for a drug dog to arrive. But the surrounding circumstances of the encounter gave the officers reason to prolong the stop, and the police dog arrived before the officers completed the purpose of the stop. Accordingly, we AFFIRM the judgment of the district court.

I.

BACKGROUND

Michael Betts drove his vehicle to a commercial parking lot in Salem, Ohio, early one November morning. Curious behavior marked the occasion. Betts was in the parking lot at roughly 1 a.m., when all the adjacent businesses were closed. Betts parked his vehicle in front of a shop that had been frequently burglarized. Betts's vehicle blocked the shop's drive-through window. And Betts paced around his vehicle, despite chilly middle-of-the-night November temperatures.

After viewing this episode for more than half an hour, a witness called the police, identified himself, and explained what he had seen. Officer Donald Paulin and another officer were dispatched to the scene. When they arrived, Paulin pulled behind Betts's vehicle, turned on his emergency lights, and ran a check of Betts's license plate. Within two minutes, Paulin learned that the plate was invalid. Paulin also knew that the shop Betts was parked in front of had been frequently burglarized through the drive-through window Betts was now blocking.

Upon seeing the emergency police lights, Betts re-entered his vehicle. Paulin approached the vehicle and ordered Betts out. As they spoke, Betts was "sweating profusely" (despite the frigid temperatures) and "talking a lot." Betts stated that he had driven to the parking lot to get a drink from a nearby vending machine, yet he reportedly had been in the lot for over thirty minutes, pacing around the vehicle. Betts added that he was looking for an address on Arch Street. But the address Betts provided did not exist on Arch Street in Salem-the Arch Street address Betts was looking for, Paulin knew, was an established drug area in neighboring Alliance. At this point, the officers on the scene called for a police dog.

Roughly five minutes after this call, and within eleven minutes of the initial stop, Officer Michael Garber arrived with his police dog, Simon. Garber took Simon for a first pass around Betts's vehicle. As they passed the trunk, Simon snapped his head and increased his sniffing intensity, an alert behavior to the presence of contraband. During a second pass, Simon again exhibited alert...

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