State v. Russell

Summarized by:

  • Court: Oregon Court of Appeals
  • Area(s) of Law: Criminal Procedure
  • Date Filed: 09-10-2014
  • Case #: A149887
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Sercombe, J. for the Court; Ortega P.J.; & Hadlock J.
  • Full Text Opinion

The implication by a party, stopped by police, that he is in possession of a weapon was reasonable grounds an officer’s safety concerns.

Defendant appealed conviction for felon in possession of a firearm. Defendant was the passenger in a vehicle when it was pulled over. The officer recognized the vehicle because two weeks earlier he had arrested an occupant of the vehicle for possession of methamphetamine. After the vehicle stopped in a well-lit area, the officer recognized the occupants from previous "law enforcement contacts" including menacing, theft and burning of a van, and possession of methamphetamine. Another officer arrived, also recognized defendant, and knew of defendant’s criminal past. He conducted the pat down search of the defendant. A police dog alerted to drugs in the vehicle. Defendant assigns error to the trial courts denial of his motion to suppress evidence obtained after the vehicle he was a passenger in was stopped. The first assigned and rejected error is that the evidence should be suppressed because the evidence was obtained after an unlawful extension of a traffic stop. Second, the defendant argued the pat down search which yielded the evidence was not justified by the officer-safety exception. The State argued that the defendant's size, his criminal history, the officer's previous experiences with defendant, and the positive alert for drugs in the vehicle, which the officer recognized from the possession of methamphetamine incident were enough to give officer’s reasonable fear for their safety. In addition, the state points out that defendant indicated he was in obsession of a weapon. The Court found that the officer safety concerns were objectively reasonable. Affirmed.

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