and submitted May 9, 2016
review from the Court of Appeals, CC 11P3134; CA A148894
G. Howe, Assistant Attorney General, Salem, filed the brief
for petitioner on review. Also on the brief were Ellen F.
Rosenblum, Attorney General, and Paul L. Smith, Deputy
G. Lannet, Chief Defender, Salem, filed the brief for
respondent on review.
Elizabeth G. Daily, Portland, filed the brief for amicus
curiae Oregon Justice Resource Center. Also on the brief
was Corinne Fletcher.
Police officers responded to a phone call that a named man
was threatening to break things in a house, saw defendant
walking away from the house, and ordered him to stop and
return for questioning. The officers suspected that defendant
was the man identified in the report and that he had
committed criminal mischief, menacing, or assault inside the
house. Defendant argued that the officers lacked reasonable
suspicion to stop him, as required by Article I, section 9,
of the Oregon Constitution, and he moved to suppress evidence
obtained during that stop. The trial court ruled that the
officers' suspicion was objectively reasonable; the Court
of Appeals held that it was not and reversed.
(1) "Reasonable suspicion" requires that an offer
reasonably suspect that a defendant has committed or is about
to commit "a specific crime or type of crime"; (2)
an appellate court's review of a criminal investigatory
stop is limited to the record made at the trial court
concerning the officer's actual belief that the defendant
may have committed a crime; and (3) the officers, in this
case, lacked reasonable suspicion to stop defendant, because
they failed to articulate sufficient facts to support an
objectively reasonable inference that defendant had damaged
property or hurt or threatened to hurt someone inside the
decision of the Court of Appeals is affirmed. The judgment of
the circuit court is reversed, and the case is remanded to
the circuit court for further proceedings.
criminal case concerns whether police officers violated the
prohibition against unreasonable seizures in Article I,
section 9, of the Oregon Constitution, when they responded to
a report that a named man was threatening to break things in
a house, they saw defendant walking away from the house, and
they ordered him to stop and return for questioning. The
trial court concluded that the officers had reasonable
suspicion to stop defendant to investigate whether he had
committed a crime; thus, it denied defendant's motion to
suppress evidence resulting from the stop. The Court of
Appeals reversed. State v. Maciel-Figueroa, 273
Or.App. 298, 308, 356 P.3d 674 (2015).
allowed the state's petition for review to consider the
state's contention that the Court of Appeals erroneously
heightened the standard that the state must meet to establish
that an investigatory stop was supported by reasonable
suspicion. In the state's view, a police officer may stop
any person "if the officer reasonably believes that the
person was either somehow involved with, or a witness to,
possible criminal activity." The state contends that the
Court of Appeals instead required the state to show that,
before stopping defendant, the police had confirmed that he
had committed a crime.
explain, although there has been some variation in this
court's articulation of the standard, the established
standard for reasonable suspicion supporting an investigatory
stop of a defendant is met when an officer can point to
specific and articulable facts that give rise to a reasonable
inference that the defendant committed or was about to commit
a specific crime or type of crime. We further conclude that
the Court of Appeals correctly applied the
reasonable-suspicion standard to the facts established at the
suppression hearing, which concerned whether it was
reasonable for the officers to infer that defendant had
committed a crime. Accordingly, we affirm the decision of the
Court of Appeals and reverse the judgment of the trial court.
review a trial court's denial of a motion to suppress for
legal error, and we are bound by the trial court's
factual findings if there is any constitutionally sufficient
evidence in the record to support them. State v.
Ehly, 317 Or 66, 75, 854 P.2d 421 (1993). When the trial
court did not make express findings and there is evidence
from which the trial court could have found a fact in more
than one way, we will presume that the trial court decided
the facts consistently with the trial court's ultimate
conclusion. Id. We take the facts from the Court of
Appeals opinion and the record of the suppression hearing,
viewed consistently with those standards.
Salem police officers, Officer Moffitt and Corporal Welsh,
responded to a report of a disturbance at a home where a
woman named Velek lived. Velek's mother had called the
police and reported that she had just spoken with her
daughter, who "said that someone named * * * Wilson was
at her house and was threatening to break things."
Maciel-Figueroa, 273 Or.App. at 299.
"Velek's mother reported that she could hear a lot
of yelling in the background when she was speaking to her
daughter, and she requested that the police go to her
daughter's house." Id. Moffitt knew Velek
from previous contacts at the residence, and he was familiar
with the layout of her house.
minutes after Velek's mother called the police, Moffitt
and Welsh each arrived by car to investigate the disturbance.
"They parked a few houses away and walked on the
sidewalk toward Velek's home. When they were near the
home, they saw defendant walking down Velek's
driveway." Id. at 300. Moffitt thought that
defendant was walking at a normal pace, but Welsh thought
that defendant's pace "seemed a little bit
rapid." "Based on his knowledge of the layout of
Velek's home, Moffitt was certain that defendant had come
from the home." Id. Defendant, who did not
appear to see the two officers, "reached the sidewalk
and turned in the direction away from the officers."
called out to defendant and asked to speak to him. Defendant
looked toward the officers, put his hands in his pockets, and
continued to walk away from them. At that point, Moffitt
stopped defendant by identifying himself as a police officer
and directing defendant to come back and speak with them.
Moffitt further instructed defendant to take his hands out of
his pockets. After defendant did that, "he began to walk
a little bit faster back towards the house, putting his hands
in his pockets again." Id. After Moffitt called
out to defendant at least three more times, defendant stopped
at the front porch of Velek's house.
officers approached, and Moffitt asked defendant whether he
had any weapons or drugs, which defendant denied. Then, with
defendant's consent, Moffitt searched him. The search
immediately yielded a methamphetamine pipe. After handcuffing
defendant, Moffitt turned his attention to the two other
individuals outside Velek's house, who were then visible
to Moffitt. One of them was Velek, and the other turned out
to be Wilson, the man identified in the disturbance call from
Velek's mother. Eventually, the officers discovered that
defendant had given them a false name and possessed an
identification card containing the same false name.
defendant was charged with unlawful possession of
methamphetamine, giving false information to a police officer
for a citation, identity theft, and tampering with physical
evidence, he moved to suppress all of the evidence derived
from Moffitt's search. He argued that the officers had
stopped him without reasonable suspicion that he had
committed a crime, thereby violating his rights under Article
I, section 9, of the Oregon Constitution.
suppression hearing, both officers testified about the
circumstances that had led them to believe that they had
reasonable suspicion to stop defendant. The trial court found
their testimony to be credible.
testified that he believed that defendant "may have been
involved with the disturbance" and "may have been
the one yelling and threatening to break things at the
home." Moffitt disagreed with the prosecutor's
suggestion that the call implied that there was a
"domestic disturbance, " explaining, "Well,
there was a disturbance. It was never titled as a domestic.
It was a disturbance. That there was somebody there,
yes." Moffitt did not specify what crime he had believed
that defendant had committed, but he testified that,
"most likely from the call, " he believed that the
officers "had a crime [that] had been committed in the
residence, and [he] initially believed [that defendant] was
[Wilson] walking away from the front of the house."
Moffitt based that belief solely on the content of the
disturbance call and the fact that defendant was a male
walking down the driveway and away from the house.
Moffitt stated in his testimony that he believed that
defendant might have committed "a crime" in the
house, Welsh eventually specified possible crimes that
defendant might have committed. Welsh testified that, when he
arrived at the residence, he believed that "maybe a
crime had been committed" and that "there was
probably something going on." He was responding to
"an unknown-type call, but clearly a disturbance"
in Velek's house. Welsh explained that, when responding
to a call "that there's somebody in there
threatening to start destroying stuff, " he would not
know specifically what type of crime might have been
committed; "it could be anything at that point."
But in response to a suggestion by the prosecutor, Welsh
proposed that possible crimes could include criminal
mischief, menacing, and assault. He also testified that he
had believed that he had reasonable suspicion to stop
defendant when he saw defendant walking away from the house,
because the officers "didn't know if [they] had a
victim inside that was assaulted or what * * * his
involvement was at that point."
trial court concluded that, when the officers had stopped
defendant by directing him to return to the house, they had
"reasonable suspicion that a crime had been committed,
and it was reasonable to believe that [defendant] was that
person who committed it." Accordingly, the trial court
denied defendant's motion to suppress. ...