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United States v. Reese

United States District Court, D. Colorado

September 16, 2019

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
ANDREW RAPHAEL REESE, Defendant.

          ORDER DENYING DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO SUPPRESS

          CHRISTINE M. ARGUELLO, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         This matter is before the Court on Defendant Andrew Raphael Reese's Motion to Suppress Evidence. (Doc. # 30.) The Motion has been fully briefed (Doc. ## 42-44), and the Court held an evidentiary hearing on the Motion on September 13, 2019. Based on the following reasons, the Motion is denied.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Defendant was arrested on March 19, 2019, while the Denver Police Department was conducting a narcotics operation in Denver, Colorado. During the operation, the police utilized the assistance of a confidential informant (“CI”) as well as surveillance technology. While the police were conducting the operation, Defendant arrived with several female associates.

         The police recognized Defendant, and they were aware that Defendant had previously been involved in drug-related activity. The police observed as Defendant and his associates walked down the sidewalk where the CI was located. After Defendant and one of the females engaged in a covert exchange of an object, the CI made contact with that female. The two of them communicated while Defendant continued to walk down the sidewalk. Subsequently, the CI and female caught up with Defendant, and the CI and female engaged in what was later confirmed to be a drug transaction while Defendant stood nearby. The female then stood in close proximity to Defendant.

         After receiving confirmation from the CI that he had engaged in a drug transaction with Defendant's female associate, the police decided to detain Defendant as well as his female associate. The police placed Defendant in handcuffs and searched him. During the course of the search, the police discovered a handgun in Defendant's possession.

         Defendant was subsequently charged by indictment with a single count of possession of a firearm and ammunition by a prohibited person in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1). (Doc. # 1.)

         II. DISCUSSION

         Defendant's Motion challenges both his initial detention by the police and the subsequent search of his clothing. The Court will analyze each event in turn.

         A. DEFENDANT'S INITIAL DETENTION BY POLICE

         Assuming, arguendo, that Defendant's initial detention constitutes an arrest as opposed to an investigatory stop, [1] the Court finds that there was probable cause to support the arrest.

         1. Legal Standard

         The Fourth Amendment protects the right of individuals to be free from improper arrest and detention. U.S. Const. amend. IV. “[A] warrantless arrest by a law officer is reasonable under the Fourth Amendment where there is probable cause to believe that a criminal offense has been or is being committed, ” Devenpeck v. Alford, 543 U.S. 146, 152 (2004), and the “validity of the arrest does not depend on whether the suspect actually committed a crime.” Michigan v. DeFillippo, 443 U.S. 31, 36 (1979). “[W]hen an officer has probable cause to believe a person committed even a minor crime in his presence, the balancing of private and public interests is not in doubt. The arrest is constitutionally reasonable.” Virginia v. Moore, 553 U.S. 164, 171 (2008).

         Probable cause to arrest exists where, “under the totality of the circumstances, ” a “reasonable person” would believe “that an offense has been . . . committed” by “the person arrested.” United States v. Munoz-Nava, 524 F.3d 1137, 1144 (10th Cir. 2008) (quotation marks omitted). As the standard itself indicates, probable cause does not require metaphysical certitude or proof beyond a reasonable doubt. Rather, “probable cause is a matter of probabilities and common sense conclusions, not certainties.” United States v. Biglow, 562 F.3d 1272, 1280 (10th Cir. 2009) (internal quotation marks omitted). Thus, “[p]robable cause only requires a probability of criminal activity, not a prima facie showing of such activity.” Wilder v. ...


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