United States District Court, D. Colorado
ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO
CHRISTINE M. ARGUELLO, United States District Judge
matter is before the Court on Defendant Charles Jason
Wood's Motion to Suppress. (Doc. # 26.) The Court held a
half-day evidentiary hearing on the Motion on February 23,
2017. For the reasons described herein, Defendant's
Motion to Suppress is granted.
Wood has been charged by Indictment in this case for his
alleged possession with the intent to distribute certain
controlled substances, possession of a firearm in furtherance
of a controlled substance crime, and for felon in possession
of a firearm. (Doc. # 1.) In brief, Mr. Wood was arrested
after police officers observed him cutting narcotics for
distribution in his parked car. As recounted in greater
detail below, officers were present to observe Mr. Wood only
because they were tracking the vehicle he was driving, a 2001
White BMW (“2001 White BMW), with an electronic
tracking device that had been affixed pursuant to a search
warrant that was tied to the previous driver of the vehicle,
an individual named S.B. Mr. Wood challenges that search
warrant as violative of his Fourth Amendment rights, and
seeks to suppress the evidence gleaned from the search and
Michael Garnett, a law enforcement officer with the Colorado
Springs Police Department, testified during the suppression
hearing that, as part of a drug investigation wholly
unrelated to Mr. Wood, he sought and obtained a search
warrant to track a 2001 White BMW, known to be driven by an
individual named S.B. The probable cause statement underlying
the warrant set forth information concerning S.B.'s
distribution of drugs in the Colorado Springs area, and his
use of the 2001 White BMW in connection with that activity.
The warrant, obtained on May 27, 2016, authorized officers to
attach an electronic tracking device to the 2001 White BMW
and to monitor the vehicle via the electronic tracking device
for a period of 60 days.
Garnett further testified that, prior to affixing the
tracking device to the 2001 White BMW, on June 1, June 2, and
June 3, law enforcement officers conducted surveillance on
S.B. and his residence, located at 1428 N. El Paso Street in
Colorado Springs. On all three days, the 2001 White BMW was
observed parked in the driveway. On all three days, S.B. was
observed leaving his residence and driving away in the White
7, 2016, at 10:30 p.m., an electronic tracking device was
placed on the 2001 White BMW. At that time, the 2001 White
BMW was parked in the driveway of S.B.'s residence.
Because the tracking device was affixed to the 2001 White BMW
on June 7, the warrant authorized electronic tracking of the
2001 White BMW through August 6.
Garnett testified that on June 28, 2016, in connection with
their ongoing surveillance of the 2001 White BMW, officers
observed that the chrome rims on the 2001 White BMW had been
removes and a “For Sale” sign affixed to the
passenger side window of the 2001 White BMW.
the time the tracking device was affixed on June 7 until July
2, the data reveals that the 2001 White BMW was parked at
1428 N. El Paso St. - S.B.'s residence - on 23 out of 25
days. From July 3 on, the tracking data shows that the 2001
White BMW was parked at 210 N. Murray Boulevard in Colorado
Springs, an address with no known connection to S.B., and the
location we now know to be Mr. Wood's residence.
Garnett's report indicates that on July 8, 2016, he
sought to surveil the 2001 White BMW to “see if [his]
previous suspect [i.e. S.B.] was still driving the vehicle or
if it still had the same plate number.” Using the data
provided by the electronic tracking device, Detective Garnett
located the 2001 White BMW, which was in transit from the
apartment parking lot at 210 N. Murray to the parking lot of
a nearby high school. Detective Garnett located the 2001
Whtie BMW in the parking lot of the high school and drove by
it. He testified that he noticed that there was no license
plate attached to the 2001 White BMW and that a white male
was sitting in driver's seat; however, he was unable to
determine whether the driver was S.B. or a different white
point, Detective Harris, a colleague accompanying Detective
Garnett, exited their vehicle and walked past the parked BMW.
Because the windows of the BMW were tinted, Detective Harris
reported that he was also unable to identify the driver. He
did, however, observe the driver cutting a large amount of
narcotics for apparent distribution.
thereafter, Detective Garnett observed the driver of the 2001
White BMW engage in what he believed to be a narcotics
transaction with a person in a second car in the parking lot.
A third officer, Officer Zahrobsky, was radioed, arrived at
the scene, and approached the 2001 White BMW to make contact
with the driver. After a brief scuffle and an attempt to
flee, Mr. Wood was subdued and handcuffed. Near the 2001
White BMW, officers discovered a brown satchel containing
cash and Ziploc bags. Inside the car, officers found
controlled substances, firearms, and ammunition.
significance to the defendant's motion is that Detective
Garnett, on cross examination, testified that he had doubts
on July 8 that S.B. was still driving the vehicle, and it was
because of those doubts that he decided to pull the tracking
data and intercept the vehicle for visual surveillance.
was subpoenaed by the Defendant and testified that, at the
request of his sister, L.B., who was the record title holder
to the 2001 White BMW, he sold the 2001 White BMW to Mr. Wood
on either July 2 or July 3, 2016, for $4000. On the day of
the sale, he gave possession of the 2001 White BMW, including
the title and keys, to Mr. Wood. He also testified that he
removed the license plates and other personal items from the
2001 White BMW before he gave possession to Mr. Wood. Mr.
Wood took the stand and confirmed that he paid S.B. $4, 000
for the 2001 White BMW and took possession of the vehicle on
July 2, 2016. He further testified ...