This opinion will be unpublished and
may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2000).
STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
State of Minnesota,
Hennepin County District Court
File No. 99100779
Mike Hatch, Attorney General, 525 Park Street, Suite 500, St. Paul, MN 55103; and
Amy Klobuchar, Hennepin County Attorney, Michael Richardson, Assistant County Attorney, C-2000 Government Center, Minneapolis, MN 55487 (for respondent)
John M. Stuart, State Public Defender, Scott G. Swanson, Assistant State Public Defender, 2829 University Avenue Southeast, Suite 600, Minneapolis, MN 55414 (for appellant)
Considered and decided by Kalitowski, Presiding Judge, Klaphake, Judge, and Halbrooks, Judge.
U N P U B L I S H E D O P I N I O N
Appellant Donnelle Williams challenges his conviction of possession of a firearm, contending the district court erred in denying his motion to suppress because the police did not have a sufficient basis to stop him and his confession was involuntary. We affirm.
When reviewing pretrial suppression orders, this court “may independently review the facts and determine, as a matter of law, whether the district court erred in suppressing – or not suppressing – the evidence.” State v. Harris, 590 N.W.2d 90, 98 (Minn. 1999) (citation omitted); accord State v. Robledo-Kinney, 615 N.W.2d 25, 32 (Minn. 2000); State v. Anderson, 620 N.W.2d 56, 57 (Minn. App. 2000).
Appellant contends the district court should have suppressed the gun and his confession as fruits of an illegal search because the police did not have a sufficient basis to stop him. We disagree. “In reviewing a district court’s determinations of the legality of a limited investigatory stop, we review questions of reasonable suspicion de novo.” State v. Britton, 604 N.W.2d 84, 87 (Minn. 2000) (citation omitted). “In doing so, we review findings of fact for clear error, giving due weight to the inferences drawn from those facts by the district court.” Id. (quotation omitted).
Both the United States and Minnesota Constitutions protect against unreasonable searches and seizures by the state. U.S. Const. amend. IV; Minn. Const. art. I, § 10. A police officer may, however,
lawfully make an investigative seizure, commonly referred to as an investigative stop, of an individual if the officer is able to point to specific and articulable facts which, taken together with rational inferences from those facts, reasonably warrant that intrusion.
State v. Holmes, 569 N.W.2d 181, 184-85 (Minn. 1997) (quotations omitted). But if an individual
has been seized without probable cause and/or a warrant, the police officer must then set forth the basis for his/her reasonable suspicion that the person was engaging in some criminal activity.
State v. Martinson, 581 N.W.2d 846, 850 (Minn. 1998) (quotation omitted). This basis may include
the officer’s general knowledge and experience, the officer’s personal observations, information the officer has received from other sources, the nature of the offense suspected, the time, the location, and anything else that is relevant.
Applegate v. Commissioner of Pub. Safety, 402 N.W.2d 106, 108 (Minn. 1987).
Here, a citizen telephoned the police to inform them that there was a black male in north Minneapolis carrying a handgun. The caller also informed the police that the man was wearing a white T-shirt and black pants. A police officer went to the location described by the caller and stopped appellant, who was wearing dark pants and a white shirt. Appellant then fled when the officer ordered him to stop. See State v. Anderson, 391 N.W.2d 527, 530 (Minn. App. 1986) (determining that an individual’s flight from the police after a stop constitutes a factor justifying a stop). Because appellant matched the description of the suspect, was identified in the vicinity of where the caller stated the suspect was located, and fled when ordered to stop, we conclude the police had a reasonable basis to justify the stop.
Appellant argues that because the same officer stopped two other black men prior to stopping him, he was stopped merely for being a black man in a high-crime area. We disagree. While race alone is an insufficient foundation for conducting an investigatory stop, “[i]t is well-established that an investigatory stop may be based in part on a description of a suspect’s race.” State by Beaulieu v. City of Mounds View, 518 N.W.2d 567, 572 (Minn. 1994) (citation omitted). Here, the record includes the officer’s testimony that he stopped appellant not because of his race, but because he fit the description of the person alleged to be carrying a gun.
Because the facts support the officer’s conclusion that he had sufficient basis for a stop, we conclude the district court properly denied appellant’s motion to suppress the gun and subsequent confession as fruits of an illegal search and seizure.
Appellant also contends that his confession should be suppressed because it was involuntary. We disagree. In analyzing whether a confession was involuntary,
the [district] court must make a subjective factual inquiry into all the circumstances surrounding the giving of the statement. On appeal this court will not reverse any findings of fact unless they are clearly in error, but this court will make an independent determination of voluntariness on the facts as found.
State v. Hardimon, 310 N.W.2d 564, 567 (Minn. 1981). In independently determining whether a confession or statement was involuntary or coerced, a reviewing court considers all relevant factors including age, maturity, intelligence, education, experience, ability to comprehend, length and legality of detention, nature of interrogation, physical deprivations, and limits on access to counsel and friends. State v. Ritt, 599 N.W.2d 802, 808 (Minn. 1999), cert. denied, 528 U.S. 1165 (2000).
Here, appellant was 27 years old and had at least one prior felony conviction when he confessed. He had also been advised of his Miranda rights before the interrogation began. Moreover, the interrogation was not particularly prolonged or threatening. Based on the totality of the circumstances, we conclude that appellant’s confession was voluntary.
But appellant claims that his confession was coerced because the officer promised, off the record, to release him without being charged if he cooperated in a prospective drug buy. We disagree. In finding that appellant’s confession was voluntary, the district court stated:
The court has listened to the audiotape of the interview and finds the Defendant’s testimony regarding the events surrounding the giving of the statement not to be credible. * * * The tape recording itself does not support Defendant’s version of events. The interview appear[s] to be seamless and free of interruptions. Moreover, the Defendant’s confession is fully within the context of the questions and answers that pr[e]ceded it.
Because there are no discernible interruptions on the audiotape, the district court’s finding that appellant’s confession was voluntary was not clearly erroneous.
Moreover, even if an officer made the promises alleged by appellant, courts will not “mechanically hold confessions involuntary just because a promise has been involved.” State v. Thaggard, 527 N.W.2d 804, 811 (Minn. 1995) (quotation omitted); but see In re Welfare of D.S.N., 611 N.W.2d 811, 814 (Minn. App. 2000) (warning police that they “proceed on thin ice and at their own risk” when they use deception or trickery to obtain a confession) (quotation omitted)). We conclude the district court properly decided not to suppress appellant’s confession.
Finally, appellant raises a number of arguments in his pro se supplemental brief. Based on our review of each of his claims, we conclude that they are without merit.