US v. Hutchinson, 01-3036.

Decision Date06 November 2001
Docket NumberNo. 01-3036.,01-3036.
Citation268 F.3d 1117
PartiesUNITED STATES of America, Appellee, v. Chaka Toure HUTCHINSON, Appellant.
CourtU.S. Court of Appeals — District of Columbia Circuit

A.J. Kramer, Federal Public Defender, argued the cause and filed the briefs for appellant. Gregory L. Poe, Assistant Federal Public Defender, entered an appearance.

Patricia A. Heffernan, Assistant U.S. Attorney, argued the cause for appellee. With her on the brief were Kenneth L. Wainstein, U.S. Attorney, and John R. Fisher, Roy W. McLeese III and Roderick L. Thomas, Assistant U.S. Attorneys.

Before: EDWARDS, ROGERS and TATEL, Circuit Judges.

Opinion for the Court filed by Circuit Judge ROGERS.

ROGERS, Circuit Judge:

Chaka T. Hutchinson appeals his conviction for unlawful possession of a firearm and ammunition by a convicted felon on the ground that the district court erred in denying his motion to suppress evidence. He contends that the retention of his identification during a Terry stop extended his nonconsensual detention longer than was necessary to effect the purpose of the Terry stop, and therefore was unlawful, requiring suppression of the gun, the ammunition, and certain statements that he made. Because the district court did not address Hutchinson's argument that the scope and duration of the Terry stop was excessive in light of police retention of his identification, and hence there are no findings of fact essential to decide this legal issue, we remand the case to the district court.


The police stopped Hutchinson at 13th and Monroe Streets, N.W., at about 12:40 a.m. on July 28, 2000. In following up a robbery, the police were investigating a stabbing incident that arose from the robbery and occurred at around 11:30-11:45 p.m. on July 27, 2000, at 13th and Kenyon Streets, N.W., which is approximately two to three blocks from Monroe Street. Around midnight, an eyewitness to the stabbing told Detective Hilliard that the person who had done the stabbing was a black male, 5'6" to 5'9" tall, wearing dark clothing, with a bush hair style pulled back and tied; the eyewitness observed the stabbing from about fifty yards away and from an elevated position. In response to the eyewitness's report, a lookout was broadcast, describing a black male in his twenties, about 5'8" tall wearing a dark shirt over dark pants and having a bush hair style tied back with a rubber band. The lookout stated that the subject was last seen walking eastbound in the 1200 block of Kenyon Street, N.W.

Hilliard first saw Hutchinson walking east on Monroe toward 13th Street. Hutchinson wore dark blue pants and a white shirt, and was carrying a shoulder bag. He was 28 or 29 years of age. His hair was in a bush hairstyle, pulled back and tied. Although Hutchinson is 6'3" tall, Hilliard, who is 5'10", thought at the time that Hutchinson was around 5'11" or 6' tall. Accompanied by one other officer, Hilliard stopped Hutchinson because he believed that he fit the description of the individual described in the lookout and no one else in the area matched the lookout. One of the officers told Hutchinson to put his hands on a fence, which he did. Hutchinson then asked "what was going on," and the officer responded that he matched a lookout. The officer patted down Hutchinson and found nothing. A third officer arrived at the scene shortly after Hutchinson was frisked. Hilliard then asked Hutchinson from where he was coming and to where he was going. Hutchinson said that he had just finished work at WPFW, a jazz radio station, and that he was on his way to a friend's house on Monroe Street. Hilliard was satisfied with Hutchinson's responses, and was "comfortable that this wasn't our suspect."

Hilliard, however, had obtained Hutchinson's identification, jotted it down in his notebook, and decided to run it through the "WALES" system. After determining that Hutchinson "wasn't our suspect," Hilliard started walking toward his cruiser to do the "WALES" check, when he said to Hutchinson, "You don't have a problem with the officer looking into your bag?" Hilliard asked about the bag because Hutchinson fit the lookout, having had time to take off a dark colored shirt, and the bag would have been a good place to hide the shirt and the knife. Hilliard testified that he was comfortable that Hutchinson did not appear to be the person for whom they were looking, but he could not say for certain that Hutchinson was not the stabbing suspect without seeing if he had a dark shirt or a knife. Thus, he "just arbitrarily" asked Hutchinson about the bag to be sure he did not have "these articles" before he was released. When Hutchinson did not respond, it "sent back up the red flag" and Hilliard continued to his cruiser.

While still retaining Hutchinson's identification, Hilliard was in his cruiser for two to five minutes attempting to run the "WALES" check. Hilliard was unable to run the "WALES" check, however, and returned to where Hutchinson was standing with the two other officers and asked, "Do you have a problem with the officer looking in your bag?" Hutchinson began taking his bag off his shoulder. Hilliard asked, "What's wrong?" Hutchinson replied, "Well, you're going to lock me up anyway." Hilliard asked, "Well, what's wrong? You got a weapon or something in there?" Hutchinson replied, "Yeah, I have a gun." The police immediately arrested Hutchinson and took the bag. The bag contained a sawed-off shotgun. The transport officers observed Hutchinson attempting to conceal two shell casings in the transport vehicle. Another officer corroborated much of Hilliard's testimony.

Hutchinson, who was implicated in neither the stabbing nor the robbery that preceded it, filed a motion to suppress the gun, the ammunition, and his statements. He argued that the facts did not justify a Terry stop, because he did not fit the lookout description and was walking in the opposite direction at a time much later than the stabbing. He also argued that the Terry stop had exceeded the scope of the purpose of the stop, maintaining that the Terry stop constituted a custodial situation because Hilliard kept Hutchinson's identification, there were three officers present, and Hutchinson was commanded to let the police look in his bag. Further, Hutchinson argued, because Hilliard was satisfied with Hutchinson's responses, there was no need for further investigation. Finally, Hutchinson argued that the police officers' questioning constituted custodial interrogation in violation of his Fifth Amendment rights. The government responded that the lookout was reliable, Hutchinson's location, age, race, dark pants and hair style justified the stop, there was only investigatory questioning that led to asking for consent to search the bag, which Hutchinson effectively gave, and, in any event, upon admitting he had a gun, there was probable cause to arrest him.

The district court denied the suppression motion. The court concluded that the description was sufficient for a stop two or three blocks away from the incident, and that because the stabbing involved a knife, a pat down and preliminary inquiry regarding the weapon were proper. The court found that no weapons were drawn, the police did not use loud voices, Hutchinson was not surrounded, and the stop was for a short duration on a public street. As to the identification, the court relied on United States v. Jordan, 958 F.2d 1085 (D.C.Cir.1992), for the standard, "whether there is a reasonable opportunity to review it," and concluded that the officers retained Hutchinson's identification for a reasonable period of time. Given the circumstances, the court concluded that it was a fair inference that Hilliard intended to return the identification to Hutchinson but for his admission to having a gun. Finally, the court concluded that Hutchinson was not in custody — that the encounter was a legitimate Terry stop — and that the questioning was reasonably related to the purpose of the stop.

Hutchinson thereafter pleaded guilty to unlawful possession on July 28, 2000, of a firearm and ammunition by a convicted felon in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1).


On appeal, Hutchinson does not contend that his initial stop was based on less than reasonable suspicion. Instead, he explicitly declined to challenge the stop's propriety at its inception in light of United States v. Davis, 235 F.3d 584 (D.C.Cir. 2000). Because Hutchinson does not challenge the lawfulness of his initial stop, the court has no occasion to decide whether the facts in the instant case rise to the level of reasonable suspicion present in Davis and required by the Supreme Court's Terry jurisprudence.

Hence, the only question on appeal is whether the scope and duration of the Terry stop were impermissible. Hutchinson contends that the retention of his identification for two to five minutes to run a "WALES" check, and the questioning that took place during and after that period, resulted in a detention that was both longer than necessary to carry out the purpose of the stop and beyond the scope of the purpose of the stop. Therefore, Hutchinson contends, his statements and the physical evidence seized from him during and after this time period must be suppressed.

In Florida v. Royer, 460 U.S. 491, 103 S.Ct. 1319, 75 L.Ed.2d 229 (1983), the Supreme Court instructed that:

an investigative detention must be temporary and last no longer than is necessary to effectuate the purpose of the stop. Similarly, the investigative methods employed should be the least intrusive means reasonably available to verify or dispel the officer's suspicion in a short period of time. It is the State's burden to demonstrate that the seizure it seeks to justify on the basis of reasonable suspicion was sufficiently limited in scope and duration to satisfy the conditions of an investigative seizure.

Id. at 500, 103 S.Ct. 1319 (citations omitted). In ...

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  • In re Sealed Case, 06-3082.
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    ...conclude with confidence that it employed the correct legal standard in applying the ... enhancement"); cf. United States v. Hutchinson, 268 F.3d 1117, 1118 (D.C.Cir. 2001) (remanding case for further factfinding, because the trial judge had failed to make findings of fact essential to deci......
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    ...relevant to their claim,” id., or expound their argument as “fulsomely” as they might in an appellate brief, United States v. Hutchinson, 268 F.3d 1117, 1121–22 (D.C.Cir.2001). The government acknowledges that Peyton disputed Hicks's authority to allow a search of the living room, but conte......
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    • U.S. Court of Appeals — District of Columbia Circuit
    • May 31, 2005
    ...the stop to go on for too long, thereby making illegal his subsequent arrest and the search of his bag. United States v. Hutchinson, 268 F.3d 1117, 1123 (D.C.Cir.2001) ("Hutchinson I"). We conclude, in light of the close match between the lookout description and Hutchinson's appearance, and......

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