Woolfolk v. Commonwealth, NO. 2019-CA-000988-MR

CourtCourt of Appeals of Kentucky
Writing for the CourtDIXON, JUDGE
PartiesJAMES WOOLFOLK APPELLANT v. COMMONWEALTH OF KENTUCKY APPELLEE
Decision Date26 June 2020
Docket NumberNO. 2019-CA-000988-MR

JAMES WOOLFOLK APPELLANT
v.
COMMONWEALTH OF KENTUCKY APPELLEE

NO. 2019-CA-000988-MR

Commonwealth of Kentucky Court of Appeals

JUNE 26, 2020


NOT TO BE PUBLISHED

APPEAL FROM FAYETTE CIRCUIT COURT
HONORABLE ERNESTO SCORSONE, JUDGE
ACTION NO. 18-CR-00520

OPINION
AFFIRMING

** ** ** ** **

BEFORE: CALDWELL, DIXON, AND L. THOMPSON, JUDGES.

DIXON, JUDGE: James Woolfolk appeals from the orders denying his motion to suppress, judgment on conditional guilty plea, and final judgment and sentence entered by the Fayette Circuit Court on December 18, 2018, April 18, 2019, and June 27, 2019, respectively. Following review of the record, briefs, and law, we affirm.

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FACTS AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

On March 28, 2018, at approximately 12:18 a.m., Officer Jesse Mascoe of the Lexington Metro Police Department was in downtown Lexington when he observed Woolfolk drop off a passenger at a suspected drug house. Officer Mascoe attempted to run Woolfolk's license plate, while behind him at a stoplight, but the plate was not illuminated. Officer Mascoe activated his lights, but Woolfolk did not immediately pull over. He did eventually pull over after Officer Mascoe activated his siren.

When Officer Mascoe approached the vehicle, Woolfolk had rolled the window down a few inches. Officer Mascoe instructed Woolfolk to roll the window down—presumably further—and asked him why he didn't pull over. Officer Mascoe detected the smell of marijuana coming from the vehicle and observed Woolfolk acting nervously. He ordered Woolfolk out of the car; again, Woolfolk did not immediately comply. Another officer approached, and Woolfolk was removed from the vehicle. The car was still in drive, so Officer Mascoe entered the vehicle to shift it into park. He informed Woolfolk he smelled marijuana in the vehicle and asked if Woolfolk had any in his possession. Woolfolk moved his hands, and Officer Mascoe instructed him to stop reaching. Woolfolk stated he was trying to give the officer the marijuana he had in his jacket pocket, which the officers then retrieved. After multiple warnings to stop reaching,

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and what Officer Mascoe perceived as Woolfolk's failure to comply, Woolfolk was placed under arrest and his hands cuffed behind his back. Once safety concerns were resolved, Officer Mascoe advised Woolfolk that he had been pulled over for failure to illuminate his license plate. The officers then searched Woolfolk and his vehicle. During the pat-down of Woolfolk, he was instructed by Officer Mascoe to spread his legs but refused. The search ultimately revealed two bags of cash, totaling nearly one thousand dollars, mostly in twenty-dollar-bills, digital scales with white residue, two cellular phones, and white residue on the front seats of the car. When Officer Mascoe ran Woolfolk's information, he discovered an outstanding warrant for his arrest.

Woolfolk's handcuffs were removed and his hands cuffed in front of his body prior to being placed in the back seat of Officer Mascoe's patrol car. Over ten minutes after Officer Mascoe began transporting Woolfolk to the detention facility, he observed Woolfolk moving around a lot and turned on the interior car light. Shortly thereafter, he told Woolfolk there was too much movement and that it was making him nervous. Woolfolk offered to put his hands on the interior cabin compartment divider, and Officer Mascoe agreed. Woolfolk's hands remained on the compartment divider until they arrived at the detention center, at which time Officer Mascoe instructed him to remove his hands so he

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could unbuckle Woolfolk. Both the traffic stop and the transport to the detention center were recorded on Officer Mascoe's bodycam.

At the detention facility, Officer Mascoe filled out a strip search request form, indicating:

SUBJECT WAS OBSERVED IN VEHICLE WITH INDICATORS OF TRAFFICKING NARCOTICS. UPON CONTACT, HE WAS UNCOOPERATIVE AND KEPT ATTEMPTING TO REACH FOR HIS BACK WAIST LINE, VERY NERVOUS AND [MOVING] IN BACK OF CRUISER, MAY HAVE SOMETHING CONCEALED.

The request was approved by Lieutenant Maulana Trowell, and the strip search was conducted in a private area by Officer Kenneth Henson who discovered two bags in Woolfolk's underwear: one containing a white powder substance and the other containing a white rock-like substance. These substances tested positive for heroin and cocaine.

On May 7, 2018, Woolfolk was indicted for trafficking in a controlled substance, first degree (heroin),1 promoting contraband, first degree,2 possession of marijuana,3 rear license not illuminated,4 and persistent felony offender, second

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degree.5 Woolfolk moved the court to suppress all evidence obtained as a result of the traffic stop and subsequent strip search. A suppression hearing was held on Woolfolk's motion, at which Officer Mascoe, Officer Henson, and Lt. Trowell testified. Officer Henson acknowledged that during intake, there are opportunities for an inmate to place items in an amnesty box or to dispose of items in the restroom before being transported to their bunk. Officer Henson and Lt. Trowell also conceded there was a possibility Woolfolk could have bonded out before his inmate intake was complete. However, because Woolfolk was brought in with at least one drug-related offense, the Fayette Detention facility's written procedures required a strip search prior to being transported to his bunk, even absent Officer Mascoe's request for the search. The court ultimately denied Woolfolk's suppression motion, finding that the strip search and the discovery of concealed drugs...

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