This opinion will be unpublished and
may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. ß 480A.08, subd. 3 (1998).

STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
CX-99-1458

State of Minnesota,
Appellant,

vs.

John NMN Keatan,
Respondent.

Filed February 8, 2000
Reversed and remanded
Foley, Judge[*]

Hennepin County District Court
File No. 96-038824

Mike Hatch, Attorney General, 525 Park St., Suite 500, St. Paul, MN 55103; and

Amy Klobuchar, Hennepin County Attorney, Mary M. Lynch, Assistant County Attorney, C-2000 Government Ctr., Minneapolis, MN 55487 (for appellant)

William E. McGee, Fourth District Public Defender, Peter W. Gorman, Assistant Public Defender, Hennepin County Public Defenders Office, 317 Second Avenue South, #200, Minneapolis, MN 55401-0809 (for respondent)

Considered and decided by Toussaint, Chief Judge, Davies, Judge, and Foley, Judge.

U N P U B L I S H E D   O P I N I O N

FOLEY, Judge

This appeal arose from a pretrial order suppressing evidence seized as a result of an investigative stop. The state argues that the district court clearly erred in finding that an informantís description of a suspected drug deal, along with respondent-suspectís flight when a police officer approached, did not provide reasonable articulable suspicion required for a stop. Because the officer had the suspicion required to support the stop, we reverse and remand.

FACTS

On the morning of May 10, 1996, Officer Thomas Peterson was on patrol when he received a dispatch report of possible drug dealing near 19th Street and Portland Avenue in Minneapolis. Dispatch reported that it had received information from John Jensen, a citizen property owner known by Officer Peterson as having provided reliable and accurate information in the past. Jensen described the four suspects individually as an African American male wearing a blue jacket with white trim, an African American male wearing all black, an African American male wearing a green jacket, and an African American female wearing all black.

Officer Peterson proceeded to 19th and Portland and, less than a half block from the intersection, saw three African American men, two of whom matched the description given by Jensen. Specifically, respondent John Keatan was wearing a blue jacket with white trim and another man was wearing all black. Officer Peterson exited his squad car and asked Keatan if he could speak with him, at which time Keatan fled on foot.

Officer Peterson chased Keatan, yelling that he was to stop and that he was under arrest. During the chase, Keatan discarded a cellophane wrapper. Eventually, Keatan "gave up." Officer Peterson recovered the cellophane wrapper, which contained what appeared to be crack cocaine.

Keatan was charged with one count of a fifth-degree controlled substance crime. Keatan moved to suppress the cocaine. The district court granted Keatanís motion, concluding that the officer did not have the suspicion required to make a stop.

D E C I S I O N

In order to prevail on a pretrial appeal from an order suppressing evidence in a criminal prosecution, the state normally must establish clear error on the part of the district court and that the error will have a critical impact on a trial. State v. Othoudt, 482 N.W.2d 218, 221 (Minn. 1992).

However, when reviewing a pre-trial order suppressing evidence where the facts are not in dispute and the trial courtís decision is a question of law, the reviewing court may independently review the facts and determine, as a matter of law, whether the evidence need be suppressed.

Id. Here, because there are no facts genuinely in dispute and the district court made no factual findings, we review the facts and make an independent determination of whether the evidence was properly suppressed.[1]

Generally, the search or seizure of an individual is not constitutionally permissible unless an officer has a warrant or probable cause to arrest. Wold v. State, 430 N.W.2d 171, 174 (Minn. 1988). However, in certain circumstances officers may stop individuals to investigate possible criminal behavior even without the probable cause otherwise necessary to make an arrest. Id. A police officer may conduct an investigatory stop of an individual if he has a "particular and objective basis for suspecting the particular person stopped of criminal activity." United States v. Cortez, 449 U.S. 411, 417-18, 101 S. Ct. 690, 695 (1981).

An investigative Terry stop need not be based upon the officerís personal observation. In re Welfare of G.M., 560 N.W.2d 687, 691 (Minn. 1997). Instead, the officer may base an investigative stop on an informantís tip if the tip has sufficient indicia of reliability. Id. In assessing the reliability of a tip, courts examine the credibility of the informant and the basis of the informantís knowledge in light of all the circumstances. Id.

Assessment of the informantís basis of knowledge involves two primary factors. First, the quantity and quality of detail in the informantís report are important. See Alabama v. White, 496 U.S. 325, 330, 110 S. Ct. 2412, 2416 (1990) (stating that details of informantís report are important in assessing weight to give tip). Second, the officerís independent verification of the details in the informantís report is important in assessing the informantís basis of knowledge. Id. at 331-32, 110 S. Ct. at 2417.

Here, the record indicates the officer had previous contact with the informant. Jensen had provided the police with accurate information on prior occasions and, more importantly, the police knew where Jensen lived and could hold him accountable for false information. See State v. Davis, 393 N.W.2d 179, 181 (Minn. 1986) (where informant is not anonymous and may be traced, tipster is less likely to give false or misleading information because he could be held accountable).

The level of detail in the tip also supports its reliability. Officer Peterson testified that the informant described four individuals by gender, race, and clothing description. The informant also gave the geographical location of the persons in question. The officerís independent verification of the details of the tip corroborated it. Officer Peterson proceeded toward 19th and Portland and saw three people walking less than half a block from the reported incident, two of whom matched descriptions from the group reported by the caller. Because the tip in question came from a known informant, included detail, and was corroborated by the police officers, we conclude the tip established the reasonable articulable suspicion necessary to support a stop.

The informantís tip was not the sole circumstance leading to the suspicion of Keatan. Evasive conduct can be sufficient to conduct a stop. State v. Johnson, 444 N.W.2d 824, 827 (Minn. 1989). Once the officers stepped out of their car and asked to speak to Keatan, Keatan ran.[2] Keatanís flight combined with the known informantís tip provided the reasonable articulate suspicion necessary to support a stop. As a result, the district court erred in suppressing the evidence gained as a result of the seizure.

Reversed and remanded.

[*] Retired judge of the Minnesota Court of Appeals, serving by appointment pursuant to Minn. Const. art. VI, § 10.

[1] There is no dispute that the district court's ruling will have a critical impact on trial.

[2] Unprovoked flight provides reasonable suspicion that defendant was involved in criminal activity and justified the stop. Illinois v. Wardlow, 68 U.S.L.W. 4031, 4033 (U.S. Jan. 12, 2000).