United States District Court, M.D. Tennessee, Nashville Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION & ORDER
RICHARDSON, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
the Court is Defendant Majok Chol's Motion to Suppress
(Doc. No. 27, “the Motion”). Via the Motion,
Defendant seeks to suppress all evidence obtained from his
person and vehicle by Nashville Metropolitan Police
Department officers on July 23, 2018. (Id. at 1).
Defendant contends the evidence was obtained in violation of
his Fourth Amendment rights guaranteed by the United States
Constitution. (Id.) For the reasons set forth below,
Defendant's Motion is DENIED.
officer may conduct an investigatory stop that does not
violate the Fourth Amendment “if he has reasonable,
articulable suspicion that the person has been, is, or is
about to be engaged in criminal activity.” United
States v. Johnson, 620 F.3d 685, 692 (6th Cir. 2010)
(citation omitted). Reasonable suspicion “must be based
on specific, objective facts, and requires that ‘the
detaining officers have a particularized and objective basis
for suspecting the particular person stopped of criminal
activity.'” Id. (citation omitted). A
court must consider the “totality of
circumstances” when determining whether reasonable
suspicion existed. Id.; see also United States
v. Witty, No. 16-CR-218 (MKB), 2017 WL 3208528, at *8
(E.D.N.Y. July 26, 2017) (holding that officers lawfully
stopped the defendant where “the officers had
sufficient facts to support probable cause that [the
defendant] had committed a violation of the Parks Code”
when the defendant was in a closed public park).
suspicion, a standard which is less burdensome than the
probable cause standard, may later blossom into probable
cause if additional facts come to the attention of the
detaining officer.” United States v.
Tarango-Hinojos, 791 F.2d 1174, 1175-76 (5th Cir. 1986)
(citing United States v. Brignoni-Ponce, 422 U.S.
873, 881-82 (1975)). A warrantless arrest that is supported
by probable cause does not violate the Fourth Amendment.
Devenpeck v. Alford, 543 U.S. 146, 152 (2004).
“Probable cause exists where the facts, at the time of
the arrest, were sufficient to lead a prudent person to
believe that a crime had been committed or was in the process
of being committed.” United States v. Jimenez,
654 Fed.Appx. 815, 819 (6th Cir. 2016) (citing Klein v.
Long, 275 F.3d 544, 550 (6th Cir. 2001)). Whether
probable cause exists “depends on the reasonable
conclusions ‘drawn from the facts known to the
arresting officer at the time of the arrest.'”
Id. (citing Devenpeck, 543 U.S. at 152).
search incident to lawful arrest doctrine authorizes the
warrantless search of an arrestee's person and the area
within his immediate control. See United States v.
Robinson, 414 U.S. 218, 235 (1973) (holding that after
“a lawful custodial arrest a full search of the person
is not only an exception to the warrant requirement of the
Fourth Amendment, but is also a ‘reasonable' search
under that Amendment”); see also United States v.
Campbell, 486 F.3d 949, 955 (6th Cir. 2007) (stating
that “[o]nce a lawful arrest has been made, the police
officer is permitted to search the individual”). The
area “within a person's immediate control”
includes “the area from within which he might gain
possession of a weapon or destructible evidence.”
Northrop v. Trippett, 265 F.3d 372, 379 (6th Cir.
2001). The officers “may seize both contraband and any
instrumentalities, fruits, or evidence of a crime that they
discover in the course of the search.” United
States v. Stewart, 315 Fed.Appx. 554, 559 (6th Cir.
2009) (citing United States v. Edwards, 415 U.S.
800, 802-05 (1974)).
inevitable discovery doctrine, an exception to the
exclusionary rule, allows unlawfully obtained evidence to be
admitted at trial if the government can prove by a
preponderance that the evidence inevitably would have been
acquired through lawful means.” United States v.
Kennedy, 61 F.3d 494, 497 (6th Cir. 1995). An inventory
search is a recognized exception to the warrant requirement
that allows law enforcement officers to search vehicles, as
well as contents of closed containers therein, when they do
so pursuant to standardized procedures. See Colorado v.
Bertine, 479 U.S. 367, 371-72 (1987).
This exception recognizes that in addition to investigating
crime, officers have an established caretaking role
vis-à-vis the public. Inventory searches further
legitimate goals of protecting property from theft or damage,
preventing property disputes between the owner and police,
and mitigating safety risks inherent in taking possession of
unknown items. But officers must conduct a permissible
inventory search in good faith, not as a pretext for criminal
investigation. In conducting an inventory search, officers do
not enjoy their accustomed discretion; they simply follow the
United States v. Tackett, 486 F.3d 230, 232 (6th
Cir. 2007) (internal citations omitted). Tennessee law
provides that “[a] police department may take into
custody any motor vehicle found abandoned, immobile, or
unattended on public or private property.” Tenn. Code
Ann. § 55-6-104.
13, 2019, the Court held an evidentiary hearing on
Defendant's Motion to Suppress. At the conclusion of the
hearing, the Court made a tentative ruling from the bench on
the Motion based upon the above-described principles of law.
The Court found that on the night of July 23, 2018, the
officers had reasonable suspicion to approach Defendant based
on a suspected violation of Tennessee's criminal
trespassing statute (Tenn. Code. Ann. § 39-14-405).
(Doc. No. 40 at 107:11-21). During the course of the
investigatory detention, the officers confirmed
Defendant's identity, and confirmed that Defendant was
the owner of the car parked in the J. Piercy Priest Park
parking lot. (Id. at 107:22-108:7). These facts gave
rise to probable cause that Defendant committed criminal
trespass in violation of Tennessee law, and the officers
thereafter lawfully arrested Defendant. (Id.).
As officers did so, Defendant resisted arrest within the
meaning of Tennessee Code Annotated Section 39-16-602, as
that statute has been broadly interpreted by Tennessee
courts; thus, probable cause also existed to arrest him for a
violation of that statute. (Id. at 109:22-110:25).
the search of the vehicle, the Court did not find Officer
Dixon's testimony regarding his observations of marijuana
in the vehicle to be credible; therefore, the Court found
that the automobile exception to the warrant requirement did
not justify the officers' entrance into the vehicle,
contrary to the Government's argument. (Id. at
111:1-17). Nevertheless, the Court found that the inevitable
discovery doctrine justified the seizure of the evidence from
Defendant's vehicle because it is the Metro Nashville
Police Department's standard procedure to tow, and
subsequently search, any car that is abandoned by way of the
owner being arrested and kept in custody. (Id. at
111:18-112:6). For all of these reasons, the Court
tentatively concluded the seizure of the evidence from
Defendant's person and vehicle was lawful under the
Fourth Amendment. (Id. at 112:4-6).
to issuing its final ruling, however, the Court offered
Defendant the opportunity to submit a post-hearing brief on
two issues, which the Court noted potentially could affect
the Court's previously summarized initial findings. Those
issues were: (1) whether Metropolitan Nashville Police
Department officers have jurisdiction on the federal land at
issue (i.e., at J. Percy Priest Lake) to lawfully
arrest Defendant for violations of state law and, if not, the
resulting effect of that answer on the suppression issues
raised via the Motion; and (2) whether the “must
cite” statute, Tennessee Code Annotated Section
40-7-118, prohibited officers from attempting to handcuff
Defendant under the circumstances in which they attempted to
handcuff him according to the testimony at the suppression
hearing and, if so, whether the violation of such prohibition
renders Defendant's subsequent arrest for resisting
arrest “fruit of the poisonous tree” for Fourth
Amendment purposes. (Doc. No. 36).
10, 2019, Defendant filed his post-hearing brief (Doc. No.
29). In the brief, Defendant addresses only the second issue
in which the Court invited further briefing on; thus, the
Court will not address the first issue and considers any
argument as to that issue to be waived. On July 29, 2019, the
Government filed its response (Doc. No. 43). Accordingly, the
issue is now ripe for review.
The effect of Tennessee Code Annotated Section 40-7-118 on
the lawfulness of Defendant's arrest
Code Annotated Section 40-7-118, also known as
Tennessee's “must cite” statute, provides
that an officer “who has arrested the person for the
commission of a misdemeanor committed in the . . .
officer's presence . . . shall issue a citation to the
arrested person to appear in court in lieu of the continued
custody and the taking of the arrested person before a
magistrate.” Tenn. Code Ann. § ...