United States District Court, E.D. Tennessee, Chattanooga
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
CHRISTOPHER H. STEGER, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
matter is before the Court on Defendant Richard T.
Allen's ("Allen") Amended Motion to Suppress
evidence. [Doc. 84]. Allen contends that a police officer who
pulled him over for a traffic violation lacked probable cause
to search his vehicle. Allen also alleges that, on a separate
occasion, law enforcement agents conducted an illegal search
of an apartment-not his apartment-although the agents
obtained consent to search from the legal tenant of the
apartment. The Government responds that both searches were
Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution secures
the right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure.
Against this backdrop, the Court must determine whether: (1)
the police officer had probable cause to search Allen's
car; (2) the tenant's consent to search her apartment was
valid; and (3) Allen had a reasonable expectation of privacy
in an apartment in which he was not a legal tenant.
reasons set forth below, Defendant's Amended Motion to
Suppress will be DENIED.
Search Incident to Traffic Stop
January 25, 2016, Allen was driving his Lincoln Town Car when
Chattanooga Police Department Officer Jamaael Noble pulled
him over for having a tinted license plate cover in violation
of Tenn. Code Ann. § 55-4-110(b). When Officer Noble
approached the driver-side door, he noted that Allen was
driving and had two passengers in the car. Allen rolled down
his window. Officer Noble asked Allen for his driver's
license and proof of insurance. Allen responded that his
license was inside his jacket pocket and that his jacket was
on the backseat. While speaking with Allen, Officer Noble
smelled marijuana in the vehicle.
Noble ordered Allen and the two passengers out of the car.
Noble asked Allen about the marijuana odor in the car. Allen
responded that he had smoked marijuana in the car an hour
earlier, but the car contained nothing illegal. Noble reached
into the backseat and retrieved Allen's jacket. He
located Allen's license in the left jacket pocket. When
he looked in the right jacket pocket, he found a white
substance in a baggie. Noble field-tested the substance and
discovered that it consisted of 8.1 grams of cocaine.
finding the cocaine, Noble searched Allen's car. Inside
the center console, he found a scale with white, powdery
residue on it. Noble then placed Allen under arrest. When
Allen arrived at the jail, officials searched him and
discovered cash as well as another baggie of cocaine.
Search of Apartment
a year later in early 2017, Allen and co-defendant Amanda
Wynn were being surveilled by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco,
Firearms and Explosives ("ATF") because they were
suspects in a heroin and cocaine trafficking ring in
Chattanooga. ATF Special Agent Adam Baldwin-who appeared in
court at the hearing on this motion-testified that he was
working a joint investigation with the Chattanooga Police
Department into an armed drug-trafficking organization. Agent
Baldwin discovered that Allen was a supply source for cocaine
and heroin as well as that Wynn distributed the drugs for
Allen. Armed with this information, Agent Baldwin and other
ATF agents set up several controlled drug buys with Wynn.
February 23, 2017, ATF agents established surveillance on
Wynn and Allen to conduct another controlled cocaine buy from
Wynn. The ATF had learned from the U.S. Marshal service that
there were active arrest warrants pending for both Allen and
Wynn. Consequently, the ATF agents made plans to execute the
warrants and arrest both Allen and Wynn immediately after the
controlled drug buy. Surveillance revealed Allen picking up
Wynn and others in a Pontiac Bonneville at Eastlake Court
Apartments in Chattanooga. Allen drove to several locations,
concluding his trip at an apartment complex located at 2001
South Lyerly Street in Chattanooga. Allen and his passengers
waited in the parking lot until Brandon Edwards-a known
associate of Allen-arrived and let himself into Apartment
217. At that point, Allen, Wynn, and others got out of the
car and joined Edwards in the apartment.
this time frame, an ATF confidential informant
("CI") contacted Wynn to make a controlled buy.
Wynn instructed the CI to go to a location a short distance
from the apartment. Wynn then left the apartment, met the CI,
and sold the CI three ounces of powdered cocaine. The CI used
ATF marked bills to make the buy so that the money could be
tracked. Following that transaction, Wynn returned to
surveillance of apartment 217 continued, law
enforcement-including ATF agents, Chattanooga Police
Officers, and U.S. Deputy Marshals-met nearby to create a
plan to execute the arrest warrants for Wynn and Allen. They
proceeded to the apartment complex, found Wynn in the
breezeway, and immediately arrested her; Allen, meanwhile,
was still in the apartment.
enforcement knocked on the door of apartment 217 and
announced their presence. Allen responded that he would not
open the door, so they forced entry into the apartment. The
officers found Allen and another man, Gregory Brewer, lying
face-down inside near the entrance. Allen and Brewer refused
to stand, so officers picked up both men and took them into
the breezeway. As officers escorted Allen outside, he
repeatedly stated that it was not his apartment and that it
belonged to some unidentified person who was at work. While
being handcuffed, Allen told the officers that he had ...