This opinion will be unpublished and
may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (1998).
STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
Brandt Steven Lindgren,
Filed December 12, 2000
Isanti County District Court
File No. T7-99-1203
Mike Hatch, Attorney General, 1400 NCL Tower, 445 Minnesota Street, St. Paul, MN 55101; and
Jeffrey R. Edblad, Isanti County Attorney, Thad N. Tudor, Assistant County Attorney, 555 18th Avenue Southwest, Cambridge, MN 55008 (for appellant)
Brent S. Schafer, Gerald Miller & Assoc., 210 North Second Street, Suite 101, Minneapolis, MN 55401 (for respondent)
Considered and decided by Stoneburner, Presiding Judge, Forsberg, Judge,** and Holtan, Judge.
U N P U B L I S H E D O P I N I O N
Respondent Brandt Lindgren was arrested and charged with misdemeanor driving while intoxicated in violation of Minn. Stat. § 169.121, subds. 1(a) and 3(b) (1998). Lindgren moved to suppress all evidence resulting from the traffic stop for lack of a reasonable and articulable basis on the part of the arresting officer. The district court granted Lindgren’s motion. We reverse.
At approximately 1:50 a.m. on May 2, 1999, Isanti County Deputy Sheriff Lance Olson received a radio call from Ed Sweep, a member of the county safety and rescue squad, reporting a domestic disturbance in progress in a city park in Cambridge, Minnesota. While enroute to the park, Olson received a second transmission from Sweep, this one indicating that one of the disputants had fled the scene in a black Chevrolet pickup truck. Sweep reported that the truck was westbound on Second Avenue toward County Road 70. Olson proceeded west on Highway 95, parallel to Second Avenue. Upon reaching County Road 70, Olson saw a vehicle headed south that matched Sweep’s description. He pursued the vehicle, lost sight of it in the interim, and overtook a black Chevrolet pickup truck two miles south of the junction of County Road 70 and Highway 95. Olson saw no other vehicles on the road during this period except that of another law enforcement officer.
After Olson stopped the vehicle and interviewed the driver, Brandt Lindgren, he detected alcohol on Lindgren’s breath and perceived that his speech was slurred. Olson administered several field sobriety tests. Olson was then dispatched elsewhere and Deputy Sheriff Christopher Caulk brought Lindgren to the county jail where he underwent an Intoxilyzer test. Lindgren was charged with misdemeanor driving while intoxicated in violation of Minn. Stat. § 169.121, subds. 1(a) and 3(b). Thereafter, the Isanti County District Court granted Lindgren’s motion to suppress all evidence for lack of an articulable basis for the traffic stop. This appeal followed.
D E C I S I O N
Generally, this court will not set aside any factual determination made by the district court, unless it was “clearly erroneous.” State, Dep’t of Highways v. Beckey, 291 Minn. 483, 487, 192 N.W.2d 441, 445 (1971). However, when the district court has credited the uncontradicted testimony of the arresting officer as to the facts relating to a motor vehicle stop, the appellate court should make a legal determination of whether that officer’s observations provide an objective basis for that stop. Berge v. Commissioner of Pub. Safety, 374 N.W.2d 730, 732 (Minn. 1985). Because Deputy Sheriff Olson’s testimony satisfies this standard, the court must review the circumstances of the motor vehicle stop in order to determine its validity.
A police officer must demonstrate reasonable suspicion based upon specific, articulable facts to justify the seizure of a person for the investigation of criminal activity. State v. Cripps, 533 N.W.2d 388, 391 (Minn. 1995). The officer’s suspicion may be based upon facts provided by another person rather than the officer’s personal observation. Marben v. State, Dep’t of Pub. Safety, 294 N.W.2d 697, 699 (Minn. 1980). That suspicion may be the product of inferences and deductions that result from the officer’s training and experience. Berge, 374 N.W.2d at 732. However, the officer must be able to demonstrate objective facts to justify that suspicion and may not base it upon a mere “hunch.” Cripps, 533 N.W.2d at 391-92.
The district court determined that Olson’s suspicion was merely a hunch in its finding that the stop of Lindgren’s truck was invalid. The district court based its finding largely on Olson’s inability to substantiate the speed of Lindgren’s vehicle as if Olson were pursuing Lindgren for a traffic law violation. However, Olson’s suspicion of Lindgren was based on the information he had received from Sweep regarding the domestic disturbance in the city park. The district court’s concentration on Olson’s failure to articulate or to clock the speed of Lindgren’s vehicle was misdirected. The sole issue is whether Olson had a specific, articulable basis for stopping Lindgren’s vehicle based on his suspicion that Lindgren was involved in the reported domestic dispute.
A review of the circumstances of Lindgren’s arrest, in light of similar cases, suggests that Olson had a legally adequate basis for the traffic stop. In State v. Warren, 404 N.W.2d 895 (Minn. App. 1987), this court found a legally adequate basis for a traffic stop where the officer was informed of a suspect fleeing a domestic situation who “had recently left the house in a Ford Mustang, possibly headed to White Earth.” Id. at 896. The court cited the fact of the officer’s knowledge of the traffic volume at 2:30 a.m. as an important component of the validity of the officer’s subsequent stop of a Ford Mustang. Id. at 897. The circumstances of Olson’s first encounter with a black Chevrolet truck and his pursuit and apprehension of Lindgren are remarkably similar. The fact that Olson lost sight of the vehicle during a two-mile pursuit does not sever the thread of the legally adequate basis for that stop. To find otherwise would suggest to fleeing suspects that they need only drive faster to launder their identity.
The district court erred in treating Olson’s apprehension of Lindgren as a traffic stop that was initiated by Olson’s perception of a traffic violation. The court correctly decided that Olson, absent Sweep’s report, would not have had a specific, articulable basis for his suspicion that Lindgren was involved in criminal activity. But Olson was acting on the report of a reliable, identified informant who provided a sufficient description of the fleeing vehicle and thus Olson had a specific, articulable basis for making the stop. The fact that Lindgren was not ultimately charged with any crime associated with the domestic dispute contributes nothing to this inquiry.