Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

United States v. Hartz

United States District Court, D. Kansas

December 14, 2017

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
CORNELIUS A. HARTZ (01), Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          Daniel D. Crabtree United States District Judge.

         Defendant Cornelius A. Hartz has filed a Motion to Suppress (Doc. 16). Mr. Hartz's motion asserts that law enforcement officers unlawfully detained him without reasonable suspicion of any criminal activity, thus violating his right against unreasonable seizures under the Fourth Amendment. As a consequence, Mr. Hartz argues that the court must suppress evidence about a firearm that law enforcement discovered during the allegedly unlawful detention as well as statements Mr. Hartz made to law enforcement officers.

         The government has responded to Mr. Hartz's motion (Doc. 22). And, the court conducted an evidentiary hearing on December 4, 2017. After carefully considering the evidence and the parties' submissions, the court denies Mr. Hartz's motion.

         I. Factual Background

         On April 5, 2017, around 3:00 p.m., Topeka Police Department (“TPD”) Officers Justin Long and James Schneider were patrolling on their bicycles in Topeka, Kansas. Both officers were wearing TPD uniforms and riding bicycles bearing TPD markings. After the officers turned down an alley, they saw two men traveling southbound, some 30 feet ahead of them in the alley. One man-later identified as Allen Benson-was walking a bike down the left side of the alley. The other man-later identified as defendant Cornelius A. Hartz-was on the right side of the alley, straddling a bike. Mr. Hartz was seated on the bike with his left foot on the left pedal and his right foot on the ground. The officers' body-camera recording shows that the two men were only a few feet apart from each other and moving together at the same speed down the alley.

         The City of Topeka has adopted Standard Traffic Ordinance (“STO”) § 68. Topeka Municipal Code § 10.15.010. Subsection (b) of this ordinance provides: “Where a sidewalk is not available, any pedestrian walking along and upon a highway shall walk only on a shoulder, as far as practicable from the edge of the roadway.” Subsection (c) of the ordinance provides: “Where neither a sidewalk nor a shoulder is available, any pedestrian walking along and upon a highway shall walk as near as practicable to an outside edge of the roadway, and, if on a two-way roadway, shall walk only on the left side of the roadway.” The term “highway” includes alleys. See STO Art. 1 (defining “alley” as: “A street or highway intended to provide access to the rear or side of lots or buildings in urban districts and not intended for the purpose of through vehicular traffic”). Officers Long and Schneider both testified that they knew, based on their training, that Mr. Hartz was committing a traffic violation because he was walking his bicycle on the right side of the alley. But, the officers did not stop Mr. Hartz for this reason.

         Instead, as the officers approached the two men, they saw Mr. Benson brandish a handgun and point it at the ground. Officer Long testified that Mr. Benson spoke in an elevated voice and hopped around. Officer Schneider drew his firearm, and both officers ordered Mr. Benson to drop the gun. Mr. Benson refused. Instead, he mounted his bicycle and rode off down the alley. Officer Schneider followed Mr. Benson.

         Officer Long told Mr. Hartz to stop and get on the ground. He also told him that he was not under arrest and not in trouble. Officer Long testified that, when he stopped Mr. Hartz, he was not sure what Mr. Hartz and Mr. Benson were doing or what they were going to do, but he suspected they had engaged in some sort of criminal activity. Indeed, Officer Long recited under oath in a charging affidavit that he had detained Mr. Hartz “[n]ot knowing what criminal activity the two [men] had or were going to commit[.]” Exhibit B at 1.

         After stopping Mr. Hartz, Officer Long saw that he was carrying a kitchen knife in his pocket. It was a butcher-style knife. Officer Long estimated that its blade was about eight inches long. Officer Long testified that a person lawfully may carry a knife like the one Mr. Hartz had on his person in Topeka, Kansas.

         Officer Long also testified that he was frightened. He was worried that Mr. Hartz was armed with a gun since his apparent companion-Mr. Benson-had brandished a firearm in front of the officers. He also observed that Mr. Hartz appeared nervous and hesitant to follow his commands. Officer Long told Mr. Hartz to put his hands on the back of his head and not move. He then placed handcuffs on Mr. Hartz. Officer Long testified that he did this for safety reasons and because he wanted to gain control of the situation.

         While Officer Long placed Mr. Hartz in handcuffs, Mr. Hartz told him that he had something else on him. Officer Long understood this statement to mean that Mr. Hartz was carrying a weapon or some other contraband. Officer Long asked Mr. Hartz what he had on him. Mr. Hartz responded that he had a gun. And, he told Officer Long that he was not allowed to have a gun because he is a convicted felon. Mr. Hartz advised that the gun was in the rear waistband of his pants.

         Officer Long removed the gun from Mr. Hartz's waistband. It was a .22 caliber revolver, and it was not loaded. Officer Long then placed Mr. Hartz in custody for illegally possessing a firearm. Officer Long never cited Mr. Hartz for a traffic violation, although he testified that he believes that he could have issued such a citation to him.

         Based on these facts, the government has charged Mr. Hartz with violating 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1), for unlawfully possessing a .22 caliber revolver after being convicted of a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year. Doc. 1.

         II. ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.