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State v. Manwarren

Court of Appeals of Kansas

April 12, 2019

State of Kansas, Appellant,
v.
Richard William Manwarren II, Appellee.

         SYLLABUS BY THE COURT

         1. When the material facts supporting the district court's decision on a motion to suppress evidence are not in dispute, the ultimate question of whether to suppress the evidence is a question of law over which an appellate court has unlimited review.

         2. Kansas courts have recognized four types of police-citizen encounters: voluntary encounters, investigatory detentions or Terry stops, public safety stops, and arrests.

         3. The legality of a public safety stop can be evaluated in three steps. First, as long as there are objective, specific, and articulable facts from which a law enforcement officer would suspect that a citizen needs help or is in peril, the officer has the right to stop and investigate. Second, if the citizen needs aid, the officer may take appropriate action to render assistance. Third, once the officer is assured that the citizen is not in peril or is no longer in need of assistance, any actions beyond that constitute a seizure, implicating the protections provided by the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution.

         4. In applying the public safety rationale to justify a police-citizen encounter, courts employ careful scrutiny so the protections of the Fourth Amendment are not emasculated. A public safety stop is not for investigative purposes. A public safety stop must be divorced from the detection, investigation, or acquisition of evidence relating to the violation of a criminal statute.

         5. The Kansas Supreme Court has held that a law enforcement officer's mere request for identification or identifying information generally will not constitute a seizure. But an officer's retention of an identification card is one factor to be considered in applying the totality of the circumstances test, and that factor may, absent offsetting circumstances, mean a reasonable person would not feel free to leave or otherwise terminate an encounter with the officer.

         6. Under the facts of this case, what began as a valid public safety stop evolved into an illegal detention when a law enforcement officer retained a citizen's identification card to run a warrant check after it was clear to the officer that the citizen was not in need of any help, and there was no reasonable suspicion of criminal activity to extend the scope of the encounter.

         7. The exclusionary rule is a judicially created remedy that prohibits the introduction of evidence obtained in violation of a person's constitutional rights in order to deter future violations.

         8. One exception to the exclusionary rule is the doctrine of attenuation. Under the attenuation doctrine, evidence is admissible when the connection between unconstitutional police conduct and the evidence is remote or has been interrupted by some intervening circumstance, so that the interest protected by the constitutional guarantee that has been violated would not be served by suppression of the evidence.

         9. Under an attenuation analysis, courts generally consider (1) the time that elapsed between the illegal police conduct and the acquisition of the evidence sought to be suppressed, (2) the presence of any intervening circumstances, and (3) the purpose and flagrancy of the official misconduct. No one factor is controlling, and other factors may also be relevant to the analysis.

         10. Whether attenuation sufficiently purged the taint of illegal police conduct is a question of fact that appellate courts review under a substantial competent evidence standard. The burden is on the State to show that the attenuation doctrine should be applied to allow the admission of the evidence.

         11. For a constitutional violation to be flagrant, more severe police misconduct is required than the mere absence of proper cause for the seizure. In examining the flagrancy of official misconduct, factors such as an officer's regular practices and routines, an officer's reason for initiating the encounter, the clarity of the law forbidding the illegal conduct, and the objective appearance of consent may all be important in this inquiry.

         12. Under the facts of this case, the district court's finding that the State failed to meet its burden of proving that the attenuation doctrine should be applied is supported by substantial evidence in the record.

          Appeal from Reno District Court; Trish Rose, judge.

          Thomas R. Stanton, deputy district attorney, Keith E. Schroeder, district attorney, and Derek Schmidt, attorney general, for appellant.

          Shannon S. Crane, of Hutchinson, for appellee.

          Before Bruns, P.J., Malone and Powell, JJ.

          Malone, J.

         The State brings this interlocutory appeal of the district court's order granting a motion to suppress evidence filed by Richard W. Manwarren II. The case involves what both parties agree began as a welfare check or public safety stop involving Manwarren and a law enforcement officer in Reno County. But after it was clear to the officer that Manwarren was not in need of any help, the officer requested and retained Manwarren's identification card to run a warrant check. When the officer discovered an outstanding warrant for Manwarren, the officer arrested him and found drugs and drug paraphernalia on his person. The district court suppressed the evidence, finding that the detention was illegal and that the State failed to meet its burden of proving that the attenuation doctrine should be applied to allow the admission of the evidence.

         On appeal, the State argues that the entire encounter between Manwarren and the officer was voluntary and not a seizure; but if the encounter was an unlawful seizure, then the taint of any illegal detention was attenuated by the discovery of the unrelated and valid arrest warrants, making the evidence admissible under Utah v. Strieff, 579 U.S., 136 S.Ct. 2056, 195 L.Ed.2d 400 (2016). For the reasons we will carefully explain in this opinion, we disagree with the State and affirm the district court's judgment.

         Factual and Procedural Background

         The facts are straightforward and undisputed. On July 17, 2016, at about 11:40 a.m., Officer Michael Rivers and another officer with the Hutchinson Police Department received a report that a man was lying in a ditch off Highway 61 in rural Reno County and might be injured. The officers responded to the call and found Manwarren lying in the grass about 5 feet from the highway. It was a bright and sunny day. As the officers arrived in their patrol car, Manwarren stood up and walked toward the officers to greet them. The parties agree that the encounter began as a welfare check, also called a public safety stop. Rivers testified that at the beginning of the encounter, there was no indication of criminal activity and Manwarren did not appear to be injured or intoxicated.

         Rivers asked Manwarren whether he was okay, and Manwarren replied that he was waiting for a ride that was less than 30 minutes away. Manwarren added that he was homeless and had been camping nearby, and he was waiting for a friend to take him back into town. At that point, Rivers did not believe that Manwarren was a danger to ...


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