Federal Court Suppresses Key Evidence Procured in Stop of Non-Indian by Tribal Police

Here are the materials in United States v. Cooley (D. Mont.):

34 Motion to Suppress

41 Response

46 Reply

48 DCT Order

An excerpt:

Normally, under Bressi, Officer Saylor would be required to determine whether Cooley was non–Indian shortly after seizing him. 575 F.3d at 896. However, Officer Saylor determined Cooley was non–Indian when Cooley initially rolled his window down. Because Cooley was non–Indian, Officer Saylor had the authority to detain Cooley only if it was “apparent” Cooley had violated state or federal law. Bressi, 575 F.3d at 896. Officer Saylor’s observations up to that point fell considerably below an “apparent” state or federal law violation. When Officer Saylor seized Cooley, he had observed bloodshot and watery eyes, no odor of alcohol, possible but unconfirmed slurred speech, two semi-automatic rifles, wads of cash in Cooley’s pocket, and answers to questions that seemed untruthful to him. Officer Saylor had also heard Cooley explain that he pulled over because he was tired—an occurrence Officer Saylor acknowledged was common on Highway 212—and that the vehicle did not belong to him but instead to a Thomas Spang or Thomas Shoulderblade, one of whom Officer Saylor suspected of drug activity and one of whom was a former probation officer. None of Cooley’s actions, whether taken individually or cumulatively, establish an obvious state or federal law violation. The Court holds Officer Saylor exceeded the scope of his authority when he detained Cooley. All evidence obtained subsequent to Cooley’s seizure is suppressed because it is “fruit of the poisonous tree.” United States v. Ramirez–Sandoval, 872 F.2d 1392, 1395 (9th Cir. 1989) (citing Nardone v. United States, 308 U.S. 338, 341 (1939)).

This entry was posted in Author: Matthew L.M. Fletcher, Criminal, Research and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.