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United States v. Jackson

United States District Court, D. Oregon, Portland Division

July 5, 2018



          Ann Aiken U.S. District Judge.

         In November 2016, defendant Richard Cody Jackson was indicted on one count of possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine, in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1) and 841(b)(1)(B), and one count of being a felon in possession of a firearm, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1). In January 2018, defendant moved to suppress evidence seized and statements elicited during the traffic stop that led to his arrest. The parties appeared for a suppression hearing on June 25, 2018. For the reasons set forth below, defendant's motion is granted.


         This summary is based on the evidence presented at the suppression hearing: the testimony of Officer Jonathan Lehman and audio/video footage of the stop.

         At 3:43pm on October 4, 2016, Officer Johnathan Lehman initiated a traffic stop of a black 2008 Ford Fusion driven by defendant. Officer Lehman clocked the vehicle traveling twenty-seven miles per hour in a school zone, seven miles per hour above the speed limit. Officer Lehman testified that when he pulled the vehicle over, he did not know the identity of the driver or how many people were in the car.

         After defendant pulled over, Officer Lehman approached the vehicle, introduced himself, and told defendant he had been pulled over for speeding. He asked defendant if he had a driver's license and registration. Officer Lehman testified that defendant turned toward the center console to search for his wallet and that, as he did so, defendant moved his body to block the officer's view of the center console. The video footage of that portion of the stop shows Officer Lehman moving his head and body in an apparent attempt to gain a better view into the car. Officer Lehman testified that, despite his obscured view, he saw a cylindrical object with black tape wrapped around one end between the driver's seat and the center console. Officer Lehman stated that, based on his experience and training, he knew that people often wrap black tape around the end of a weapon to facilitate a better grip.

         Defendant told Officer Lehman that he could not find his wallet and identified himself as "Richard Jackson." At the hearing, Officer Lehman testified that, although he had never met defendant before, he knew the name "Richard Cody Jackson" through contact with people on the street and from police briefings. He assumed that he had stopped the same Richard Jackson. He knew through those law enforcement contacts that Richard Cody Jackson was involved in drug and weapons trafficking and that he generally went by the name "Cody."

         At that point, just over one minute into the stop, Officer Lehman asked defendant to step out of the car and placed him in handcuffs, telling him he was being detained for "failure to carry and present." Defendant responded, "I have my wallet-can I grab it for you?" Officer Lehman replied, "I thought you didn't have your wallet. Now you do have your wallet?" Using the radio attached to his uniform, Officer Lehman reported to dispatch that he had "one detained." He did not ask defendant to provide his date of birth or other information that could have been used to corroborate his identity. He did not request backup or ask dispatch to verify whether "Richard Jackson" or "Richard Cody Jackson" had a valid driver's license.

         Officer Lehman put on black gloves and asked defendant where his wallet was. Defendant asked to be allowed to retrieve the wallet, and Officer Lehman stated that he would not allow defendant to go "digging around" in the vehicle because he had seem "some kind of weapon or stick or something." Officer Lehman did not frisk defendant for weapons or ask any questions about the cylindrical object in the car. Officer Lehman testified that he did not believe a pat-down was necessary because defendant was wearing loose basketball shorts and the weight of a weapon, if present, would have been visibly noticeable. On cross-examination, Officer Lehman stated that it is "routine" for him to put on gloves during a traffic stop when he asks the driver or other occupants to step out of the car.

         Officer Lehman told defendant that he was "not under arrest" but was "not free to go." Officer Lehman gave defendant his Miranda warnings, which defendant acknowledged he understood. Officer Lehman then asked defendant about the location of the wallet and offered to "grab it" for him. Defendant said he was not sure of the wallet's location. At 3:46pm, three minutes into the stop, Officer Lehman said, "So here's the deal, Cody. I know what you do, I know what you're about, and I have a drug dog in my car. I'm just letting you know that right up front. Okay? I'll be cool with you and I'll work with you. You're nervous as heck. You're shaking uncontrollably right now. I'll be cool with me-you work with me, I'll work with you. Simple as that."

         Officer Lehman then asked defendant if he had a "little dope" on him. He continued to question defendant about drugs for two minutes. At one point, he told defendant that "word on the street is you've been running some dope and running some guns." He also stated that "if there's dope in the car now would be a good time to tell me" because he was planning to get his drug dog out of the car. Defendant did not answer Officer Lehman's questions.

         At 3:48pm, five minutes into the stop, Officer Lehman radioed for backup. Once again, he neither asked defendant for corroborating identifying information such as date of birth nor asked dispatch to run defendant's license.

         Officer Lehman again asked defendant whether there were drugs in the car. Defendant admitted that there was "some dope" in the car. Shortly thereafter, about a minute after Officer Lehman's request for backup, a second patrol car arrived on the scene. After the backup officer got out of the vehicle, defendant told Officer Lehman that the "dope" was methamphetamine. Officer Lehman pressed defendant for the specific location of the drugs. He told defendant to "make it easier on both of us" by providing that information, because it would mean "less time out here in front of everybody."

         At 3:51pm, eight minutes into the stop, Officer Lehman asked for consent to search defendant's vehicle. Apparently referring to defendant's admission that the car contained methamphetamine, Officer Lehman said, "now I can search it." Defendant responded "now you can, yeah." Defendant then told Officer Lehman he would find drugs and a gun in a shoebox on the seat of the vehicle. At 3:52pm, Officer Lehman asked defendant for this first time if he had weapons on his person and conducted a Terry pat-down. He searched the vehicle and found the shoebox containing methamphetamine, a gun with the serial ...

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