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United States v. Maddox

United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Middle Division

July 1, 2019




         This case is before the court on Defendant Marcus Laquon Maddox's (“Maddox” or “Defendant”) Motion to Suppress Evidence. (Doc. # 11). In his Motion, Defendant seeks to suppress evidence he contends was illegally obtained when he was subjected to a stop and pat search of his person on November 9, 2017. (Id. at 1). Specifically, Defendant contends that officers from the Fort Payne Police Department violated his Fourth Amendment rights when they performed (1) an investigatory stop that was not supported by a reasonable and articulable suspicion of a crime and (2) a pat search of his person that was not supported by reasonable suspicion that he was armed and dangerous. (Id.). The pat search of Defendant revealed a loaded pistol. After conducting a suppression hearing on May 16, 2019, the court ordered the parties to submit supplemental briefing. The Motion is now fully briefed (Docs. # 12, 19-20) and ripe for review. After careful consideration, and for the reasons explained below, the court concludes that Defendant's Motion to Suppress Evidence (Doc. # 11) is due to be denied.


         Findings of Fact

         During the hearing, the court heard testimony from a single witness: Officer Levi Bates.[1]The court also accepted into evidence and reviewed three body camera videos from the responding officers.[2] After considering the testimony at the suppression hearing, assessing the witness's credibility, and observing the three body camera videos of the incident, the court makes the following factual findings:

         1. On Thursday, November 9, 2017 at approximately 11:15 p.m., the Fort Payne Police received a call that a suspicious male and female had approached the caller's car at an ATM machine at BBVA Compass Bank, located at 200 Gault Avenue in Fort Payne, Alabama.

         2. Officers Levi Bates, Matthew Jones, and Nick Hill responded to the call.

         3. The Officers did not know the identity of the caller.

         4. As he was driving toward the bank, Officer Bates saw two people he believed matched the description of the two people from the report. He stopped them as they were walking on the sidewalk in front of the Police Department, which is about two blocks from the bank. Both individuals were wearing warm clothing and jackets. The female was barefoot.

         5. Officer Bates recognized both individuals from prior night patrols and identified them as Marcus Maddox and Juliana Blankinship. He specifically recognized Defendant from prior encounters involving drug activity.

         6. Officer Bates pulled up in his patrol car and called Defendant by his first name. Defendant was walking a few feet ahead of Blankinship.

         7. Officer Bates instructed Defendant to come to him. Although Blankinship stopped walking and stayed with the Officers on the sidewalk, Defendant continued to walk down the sidewalk.

         8. Defendant finally stopped, walked back towards the Officers, and sat on top of a concrete planter.[3]

         9. Officer Bates was equipped with a body camera. After about thirty seconds of interacting with Defendant and Blankinship, he activated his body camera and recorded the events.

         10. The Officers did not immediately search Defendant and Blankinship. Instead, they conducted a field interview. Officer Bates asked Defendant and Blankinship why they had been approaching cars at the ATM.

         11. After Officer Bates began recording, Officer Nick Hill radioed to dispatch, asking for a “10-29 check on Marcus Maddox.” As Officer Bates explained, a 10-29 check is a search for outstanding warrants. The Officers did not ask for a 10-29 check on Blankinship.

         12. Blankinship took the lead in the conversation with the police officers. In comparison, Defendant offered very few responses to the Officers' questions. Blankinship told the Officers that she was the one approaching bank customers asking for a ride back home to 2004 Gault Avenue.[4] She said she was asking for a ride because her sister left them and she was not wearing any shoes.

         13. About thirty seconds into the field interview, Officer Bates advised the other officers that they should pat down Defendant. However, at that point, none of the officers initiated the pat down, and Officer Bates continued the field interview.

         14. Even though there was not an immediate pat down of Defendant, Officer Bates testified that, at that moment, Defendant and Blankinship were not free to leave.

         15. Shortly thereafter, dispatch radioed back, “negative 29, ” which was an indication that there were ...

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