8th Circuit Says Cop-Stop Was OK, Won't Suppress Evidence

By Tanya Roth, Esq. on March 09, 2012 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Should the district court have suppressed the evidence in the felony firearm possession conviction of Tony Robinson?

The 8th Circuit Court of Appeals said yes, after Robinson challenged the district court’s denial of a motion to suppress the evidence.

The opinion stems from the incidents of September 26, 2009, where Robinson was kicked out of a nightclub in Little Rock, Arkansas, for engaging in an altercation.

Robinson returned to the club, carrying a firearm and several police officers at the club were notified. As he left the club, the cops followed his vehicle and stopped him, only to discover that he had several outstanding arrest warrants and that he was a convicted felon. He was arrested for the outstanding warrants and for unlawful possession of a firearm as a convicted felon.

Robinson's request for the suppression of evidence comes from his contention that the traffic stop was in violation of the Fourth Amendment for lack of sufficient grounds to justify the stop.

The standard for an investigative stop is the Terry v. Ohio standard, where "reasonable suspicion supported by articulable facts that criminal activity may be afoot."

Did reasonable suspicion exist in Robinson's case? Reasonable suspicion can be based on hearsay or on inferences made by the officer, if based on the officer's own experiences and specialized training.

Here, the officers received a tip and followed up on it.

Robinson also contended that the officers exceeded the permissible limits of an investigative stop when they handcuffed him and placed him in the back of a squad car.

To that contention, the court responded by citing United States v. Smith, where "police officers may handcuff a suspect and place him in a patrol car during an investigative stop in order to protect their personal safety and maintain the status quo."

Motion denial affirmed.

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