Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

People v. Fields

Supreme Court of Colorado, En Banc

January 16, 2018

The People of the State of Colorado, Plaintiff-Appellant
v.
Troy Anthony Fields. Defendant-Appellee The People of the State of Colorado, Plaintiff-Appellant
v.
Dale Robert Reed. Defendant-Appellee

         Interlocutory Appeal from the District Court Fremont County District Court Case No. 17CR72 Honorable Lynette M. Wenner, Judge

          Attorneys for Plaintiff-Appellant: Molly Chilson, District Attorney, Eleventh Judicial District Cassady Adams, Deputy District Attorney Cañon City, Colorado.

          Attorneys for Defendant-Appellee Troy Anthony Fields: Law Offices of Michael Meyrick, P.C. Michael W. Meyrick Cañon City, Colorado.

          Attorney for Defendant-Appellee Dale Robert Reed: Darol C. Biddle Pueblo, Colorado.

          OPINION

          COATS JUSTICE.

         ¶1 The People brought interlocutory appeals, as authorized by section 16-12-102(2), C.R.S. (2017), and C.A.R. 4.1, from orders of the district court suppressing contraband and statements in the related prosecutions of Fields and Reed. The district court found that the initial contact with both defendants in a parked car constituted an investigatory stop for which the police lacked reasonable articulable suspicion, and it suppressed all evidence acquired after the point of initial contact as the fruit of an unlawful stop.

         ¶2 Because the district court failed to appreciate that the officers' initial contact with the defendants fell short of a stop, and by the point at which the contact progressed to a seizure within the contemplation of the Fourth Amendment, the officers had acquired the requisite reasonable articulable suspicion, and subsequently probable cause, to justify their investigative conduct, or inevitably would have lawfully arrested the defendants and discovered the contraband, both suppression orders are reversed, and the respective cases are remanded for further proceedings consistent with the judgment of this court.

         I.

         ¶3 Following the arrest of Troy Anthony Fields and Dale Robert Reed, and the seizure of firearms, other weapons, and illegal drugs from their truck and persons, they were each charged, either as a special offender or habitual criminal, or both, with possession of a weapon by a previous offender and various felony drug offenses. In separate prosecutions, each defendant filed motions to suppress, as the fruit of an unlawful investigatory stop, all statements and tangible evidence acquired during their encounter with the police. At the conclusion of a suppression hearing in the prosecution of Reed, at which the only evidence presented came from the officer who arrested Reed, the footage from his body camera, and the tape of a 911 call alerting the police to the defendants' presence and activities, the district court denied Reed's motion. At the conclusion of a later suppression hearing in the separate prosecution of Fields, at which the evidence consisted of the testimony of the officer who arrested Fields as well as the testimony of the officer who arrested Reed, the footage from the body cameras of both officers, the 911 call, and several photos of the seized contraband, the district court made findings of fact and conclusions of law and granted Fields's motions. The district court subsequently granted Reed's motion for reconsideration and his motions to suppress, on the same basis as its ruling concerning defendant Fields.

         ¶4 The findings of the district court and undisputed evidence from the suppression hearings revealed the following. On the night of January 29, 2017, about 7:30 p.m., the Florence Police Department received a 911 call from a woman, who identified herself as a Loaf 'N Jug employee named Brandy, to the effect that she believed she was observing a drug transaction occurring in her parking lot. She indicated that a girl got out of a white car, which then left the area, and approached a red truck in the parking lot. The girl conversed with someone in the truck and, at the time of the caller's report, was standing outside the truck by the store's propane tank. An officer responded to the 911 call and spoke with two employees of the Loaf 'N Jug, including Brandy, who told him that the girl subsequently got into the truck, which moved next door and was currently parked in the Carl's Jr. restaurant parking lot, and the officer relayed this information to dispatch.

         ¶5 A second officer then responded to the dispatch call and upon seeing a truck that matched the description reported, parked his patrol car, without engaging his emergency lights, in another parking place in the Carl's Jr. lot and approached the open driver-side window of the truck. The first officer to arrive at the scene then left the Loaf 'N Jug and approached the passenger side of the truck and knocked on the window. In response to questions from the driver-side officer, the driver identified himself as Reed, gave his date of birth, and conceded that he had an old outstanding warrant from Florida. In response to questions from the passenger-side officer, the woman, who was sitting in the back seat, explained that she had gotten out of the truck while it was parked at the Loaf 'N Jug to smoke a cigarette, and the front seat passenger identified himself as Fields, gave his date of birth, and conceded that while not subject to outstanding warrants, he nevertheless was on probation. The passenger-side officer then stepped away to confirm Fields's information and check for outstanding warrants.

         ¶6 Upon seeing the exposed handle of a handgun in the area under the center console, the officer addressing Reed asked him to step out of the truck and walked him to its rear, directing him to put his hands on the vehicle; notified the other officer, who at that point was behind the truck, that the occupants had a firearm; and returned to remove the gun from the truck, walk it back to his patrol car, and pat Reed down for more weapons. After receiving permission to remove a hard object he felt in Reed's pocket, which turned out to be a wallet, the officer continued to pat Reed down and at some point felt what he identified as a baggie of methamphetamine, removed it from Reed's pocket, and placed him in handcuffs. During the pat-down, Reed responded to a direct question from the officer by admitting that he had a felony conviction and was not permitted to have a firearm. Although the officer's removal of the baggie of methamphetamine from Reed's person did not appear clearly on the footage from his body cam, the officer expressly testified during cross-examination by defense counsel that the defendant admitted to his felony conviction before, rather than after, the discovery of drugs in his pocket, and this testimony was neither challenged by the defense nor discredited by the court.

         ¶7 Reed was then placed in the patrol car, and shortly thereafter, the arresting officer ran the serial number of the firearm and was advised that it came back as stolen. The officer testified that he would therefore have learned that Reed had felony convictions in any event, because he could not have released the firearm back to him until he had ensured that it was not stolen and that Reed was not a felon, who would be prohibited from legally possessing a firearm.

         ¶8 Upon learning of the presence of a firearm, the officer confirming Fields's information returned to the passenger-side door and ordered Fields from the truck, demanding to know whether he had any other weapons on his person. When Fields admitted that he had knives, the officer asked where they were located, warned Fields not to reach for them, and removed a pocket knife and a throwing star from the location indicated by Fields. After continued questioning whether he had missed any weapons and whether Fields had another firearm, Fields eventually announced that he was in trouble, again stating that he was on probation and admitting that he did have a gun in his ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.