United States v. Gantt, 090220 IWNDC, 20-cr-2020-CJW

Docket Nº20-cr-2020-CJW
Opinion JudgeMark A. Roberts, United States Magistrate Judge
Party NameUNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff, v. DANDRE MONTRELL GANTT, Defendant.
Case DateSeptember 02, 2020
CourtUnited States District Courts, 8th Circuit

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,

v.

DANDRE MONTRELL GANTT, Defendant.

No. 20-cr-2020-CJW

United States District Court, N.D. Iowa, Eastern Division

September 2, 2020

REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION ON DEFENDANT’S MOTIONS TO SUPPRESS AND DISMISS ON BASIS OF SECOND, FIFTH, AND EIGHTH AMENDMENTS

Mark A. Roberts, United States Magistrate Judge

TABLE OF CONTENTS Page

I. INTRODUCTION ........................................................................... 2

II. FINDINGS OF FACT ...................................................................... 3

III. DISCUSSION ................................................................................ 9

A. Defendant’s Motion to Suppress ................................................. 9

1. The encounter began as a consensual encounter .................... 9

2. Officer Woodward had reasonable suspicion for an investigative stop when he saw the empty holster .................................... 13

3. Defendant’s arrest was supported by probable cause ............... 19

4. Whether the Stop was a Traffic Stop .................................. 19

5. Statements Defendant Made at the Waterloo Police Station ...... 24

B. Defendant’s Motion to Dismiss on Basis of Second, Fifth, and Eighth Amendments........................................................................26

1. Defendant’s as-applied challenge is premature......................26

2. 18 U.S.C. Section 922(g)(3) is not amenable to facial attacks ... 28

3. 18 U.S.C. Section 922(g)(3) does not violate the Second Amendment.................................................................33

4. 18 U.S.C. Section 922(g)(3) does not violate the Eighth Amendment.................................................................34

IV. CONCLUSION ........................................................................35

I. INTRODUCTION

On May 19, 2020, the Grand Jury charged Defendant with one count of Possession of Firearms and Ammunition by a Drug User in violation of 18 U.S.C. Section 922(g)(3). (Doc. 3.) The charges arose from an encounter with Waterloo, Iowa Police Officer Matthew Woodward on January 26, 2020.

The matters before the Court are Defendant’s Motion to Suppress (Doc. 32) and Defendant’s Motion to Dismiss on Basis of Second, Fifth, and Eighth Amendments (Doc. 33). The Government timely filed resistances. (Docs. 36, 37.) The Honorable Charles J. Williams, United States District Court Judge, referred the motions to me for a Report and Recommendation.

I held a hearing on Wednesday, August 19, 2020. (Doc. 41.) The Government called two witnesses: Officer Matthew Woodward and Officer Charles Nichols, both of the Waterloo Police Department. Both officers are graduates of the Iowa Law Enforcement Academy and have taken additional law enforcement training. In addition, Officer Woodward is a member of the Violent Crime Apprehension Team (“VCAT”), which investigates gun violence in the city of Waterloo. (Woodward Hr’g Test.)1 The Government’s Exhibits 1-3 were admitted without objection. (Doc. 41.) Defendant called no witnesses and proffered no evidence. For the following reasons, I respectfully recommend that the District Court deny Defendant’s Motion to Suppress and hold in abeyance in part and deny in part Defendant’s Motion to Dismiss on Basis of Second, Fifth, and Eighth Amendments.

II. FINDINGS OF FACT

Officer Woodward testified at the August 19, 2020 suppression hearing. I found him to be a credible witness. Therefore, unless otherwise noted, the following findings have all been adduced from Officer Woodward’s testimony. At approximately 1:30 a.m. on January 26, 2020, Officer Woodward parked his unmarked squad car on Fifth Street at Jefferson Street where he could observe the Briq House Bar and Grill (“the Briq House”). Although his black SUV was “unmarked,” it had an interior light bar, sirens, lights on the side mirrors, and police license plates. It did not “blend in that well” and Officer Woodward thought someone behind him could tell it was a police vehicle. Officer Woodward had driven by during the night and noticed “a lot of people coming and going” from the Briq House and many cars in parking lots adjacent to the Briq House, which often means they will “have problems” at closing time. The Briq House is a “hot spot” for weapons violations, fights that spill out into the street, and recent shootings near bar closing time, which is 2:00 a.m. The 400 Group, a gang that does “the bulk of the shootings in Waterloo,” frequents the Briq House. Friday and Saturday nights are the busiest nights for crime in Waterloo and 1:30 a.m. on January 26 was a Sunday morning, the “rollover” from a Saturday night. From his location, Officer Woodward could see patrons leaving the Briq House. He watched patrons come and go from the Briq House for about ten minutes.

As he was observing the Briq House, Officer Woodward noticed a vehicle parked approximately two car lengths behind him that had fogged windows and did not appear to be running. Officer Woodward found this odd on such a cold night. Officer Woodward did not know the temperature, but there was snow on the ground. He noticed that the car was occupied by two men. He also noticed that the passenger in the front seat, who was later identified as Defendant, was leaning backward and forward in his seat. Officer Woodward thought the passenger looked familiar, but could not remember his name. He could not identify the driver. When someone exited the Briq House, Defendant would move forward as if to see who was leaving the bar. If the person was a female, Defendant moved back quickly. If the person was a male, Defendant stayed forward for a longer time and “paid more attention to the males.” Defendant’s movements were not slight. He would move two or three feet-when he went back in his seat, he would shift between “sit[ting] in an upright position [to] . . . pretty much almost flat.” Officer Woodward estimated Defendant shifted like this ten times. Officer Woodward thought Defendant was showing interest in the males who were exiting the bar, but not the females. This was concerning because of the number of fights, disorderlies, and shootings that occur at the bar at closing time. Officer Woodward believed Defendant was targeting someone and that is why the vehicle was waiting near the bar. At one point, Officer Woodward recognized two members of the ABA (“All About Action”) Gang exit the Briq House. ABA is a branch of the 400 Group. Defendant appeared to watch the men cross the street. Officer Woodward observed Defendant’s head movements as Defendant watched the men. Officer Woodward believed Defendant was “tracking” the men.

Officer Woodward could read the license plate of the vehicle in his rear-view mirror and ran it through his computer. He discovered that the vehicle was registered to Choroin Smith and that the vehicle’s registration was expired. He then ran Smith’s name through Shieldware, which provides local arrest-history, and discovered Smith was a felon who was convicted for shooting two people and was currently subject to a no-contact order.[2] While searching these records, he saw a photograph of Smith. He could not see what the driver of the vehicle looked like.

At 2:03:49 a.m., Officer Woodward decided to make contact with the driver and informed Dispatch that he was doing so. (Gov. Ex. 3 at 1.) He waited about 30 more seconds before exiting his vehicle. At this point, Officer Woodward had been watching the vehicle for about 30 minutes. Officer Woodward initially registered the encounter as “suspicious call” in the call for service record. (Id.) Officer Woodward exited his vehicle, walked past Smith’s vehicle on the sidewalk, and saw Defendant make “furtive movements” back and forth and “mov[e] frantically” when he saw Officer Woodward. Due to Defendant’s behavior, Officer Woodward decided to approach the vehicle on the passenger side instead of the driver’s side. Officer Woodward’s stated that reasonable suspicion was “pretty high” before he left his squad car based on watching the passenger’s behavior. Officer Woodward, in full uniform-including his holstered department-issued firearm-approached the passenger-side front window, which Defendant “barely rolled down.” Smith identified himself to Officer Woodward. Defendant provided his first name, “Deandre,” and Officer Woodward said, “Deandre Gantt?” Officer Woodward immediately recognized Defendant because in 2018, he had been part of a VCAT team that executed a search warrant at Defendant’s residence. He also arrested Defendant in 2018 for possession of marijuana and released him. Officer Woodward later swore out a warrant for Defendant’s arrest for possession of marijuana, second offense.

At 2:05 a.m., Officer Woodward radioed Dispatch for information about Defendant. Then Officer Woodward “immediately” saw an empty gun holster in front of the car’s gear shift. Officer Woodward looked in the front and back seats as well as he could through the fogged side windows with his flashlight but could see nothing. When he looked back through the partially-opened front window, the holster was covered with a piece of paper and Smith was in the process of removing his right hand from the area. Officer Woodward interpreted this as Smith’s attempt to hide the holster. Officer Woodward also noticed that Smith’s pants were unzipped. Because of his training and experience, the empty holster told Officer Woodward there was likely a gun in the car. Moreover, seeing Smith’s zipper down raised Officer Woodward’s suspicion “right out the window” that Smith was hiding a gun somewhere in the vehicle. Officer Woodward knew Smith was a felon and prohibited from having a firearm. Officer...

To continue reading

Request your trial