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United States v. Hudson

United States District Court, D. Kansas

February 12, 2019

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
IAN DOMINIQUE HUDSON, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          HOLLY L. TEETER UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Defendant Ian Dominique Hudson, who is charged with possession of a firearm by a prohibited person, moves to suppress a firearm recovered from his vehicle, arguing that it is the fruit of an illegal seizure. Docs. 16, 29. The government contends law enforcement never seized Mr. Hudson within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment because he never submitted to law enforcement's show of authority during an attempted traffic stop and, instead, fled from the vehicle leaving the firearm on the seat. Because the Court agrees that Mr. Hudson was not seized when he abandoned the vehicle and firearm, the Court denies the motion.

         I. BACKGROUND[1]

         In December 2017, the United States Marshals Service was surveilling Mr. Hudson in an effort to find a fugitive, Charles L. Steele, who was known to associate with Mr. Hudson. On December 5, 2017, Deputy United States Marshals (“DUSMs”) Blake Lemer and Quentin Terrel observed Mr. Hudson and a man who shared some of Mr. Steele's physical characteristics get into a Camaro Mr. Hudson was driving. The deputies, driving separate unmarked cars, followed the Camaro through town and into Mr. Hudson's neighborhood. Eventually, after some erratic driving, Mr. Hudson drove into a cul-de-sac and up into a driveway.

         DUSM Terrel, while separate from DUSM Lemer, stopped behind Mr. Hudson, activated his vehicle's red-and-blue flashing lights, and exited his vehicle with his weapon drawn. He identified himself as “Police” and ordered Mr. Hudson to “Stop” and to “Get out of the car.” Mr. Hudson looked at him and began backing up the Camaro toward DUSM Terrel's vehicle, getting within ten feet of it before putting the Camaro in drive again. While the Camaro rolled forward, Mr. Hudson began to exit the Camaro, leaned back down in the vehicle, then exited the Camaro, and briefly walked toward DUSM Terrel. DUSM Terrel started to approach Mr. Hudson and repeatedly ordered him to “Get on the ground.” But Mr. Hudson did not comply with these commands. When Mr. Hudson was about five feet away, DUSM Terrel reached for him but, before DUSM Terrel could touch him, Mr. Hudson turned and ran away on foot. DUSM Terrel did not follow him.

         DUSM Terrel then approached the Camaro and had the passenger put it in park. DUSM Lemer had arrived by this point. He and DUSM Terrel then removed the passenger from the car and spotted a firearm on the driver's seat. The deputies determined that the passenger was not Mr. Steele but was instead Jameson G. Potts.

         II. ANALYSIS

         Mr. Hudson argues that the firearm must be suppressed as the fruit of an unlawful seizure because the deputies lacked reasonable suspicion to seize him. The government contends that law enforcement never seized Mr. Hudson within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment because, rather than submitting to law enforcement's show of authority, Mr. Hudson fled from the vehicle, leaving the firearm on the seat. For the following reasons, the Court agrees with the government.

         The Fourth Amendment protects individuals from unreasonable searches and seizures. U.S. Const. amend. IV. A person is “seized” within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment “only when, by means of physical force or a show of authority, his freedom of movement is restrained.” United States v. Mendenhall, 446 U.S. 544, 553 (1980). Absent the use of physical force, a seizure requires both a “show of authority” from law enforcement and “submission to [that] assertion of authority” by the person at whom it is directed. California v. Hodari D., 449 U.S. 621, 626 (1991). Because DUSM Terrel never applied physical force to Mr. Hudson, the Court must determine (1) whether DUSM Terrel made a show of authority directed at Mr. Hudson and, if so, (2) whether Mr. Hudson submitted to it.

         A. DUSM Terrel Made a Show of Authority

         To determine whether law enforcement has displayed a show of authority sufficient to implicate the Fourth Amendment, courts apply the objective test set forth in Mendenhall. Under this test, law enforcement has done so “only if, in view of all the circumstances surrounding the incident, a reasonable person would have believed that he was not free to leave.” Mendenhall, 446 U.S. at 554. In making this determination, courts consider several factors including the activation of a siren or flashing lights, commanding a person to halt, displaying a weapon, and operating a vehicle in an aggressive manner to block a person's course. See, e.g., Michigan v. Chesternut, 486 U.S. 567, 575-76 (1998) (listing examples).

         The Court finds that DUSM Terrel made a show of authority directed at Mr. Hudson. DUSM Terrel pulled up behind the Camaro, activated his red-and-blue flashing lights, and exited his vehicle with his weapon drawn while shouting, “Stop. Police. Get out of the car.”[2] DUSM Terrel then repeatedly ordered Mr. Hudson to “Get on the ground.” These actions constitute a show of authority directed at Mr. Hudson, and, in view of all of the circumstances, a reasonable person would have understood DUSM Terrel's actions as such. See, e.g., United States v. Salazar, 609 F.3d 1059, 1066 (10th Cir. 2010) (noting that the parties agree that activation of a patrol car's flashing lights constituted a show of authority); Brower v. Cnty of Inyo, 489 U.S. 593, 598 (1989) (stating that “a police car pursuing with flashing lights” is “a significant show of authority”).

         B. Mr. Hudson Did Not Submit to DUSM Terrel's Show of Authority

         Because DUSM Terrel made a show of authority directed at Mr. Hudson, the next issue is whether Mr. Hudson submitted to it. Although there is no bright-line test for when a person has submitted to a show of authority, case law suggests that “submission” requires the person to yield to or manifest compliance with law enforcement directives. See Hodari D., 449 U.S. at 626, 629 (holding that a seizure is not effected through a show of authority until the subject yields). In making this determination, courts must examine the totality of the circumstances because “what may amount to submission depends on what a person was doing before the show of authority: a fleeing man is not ...


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