This opinion will be unpublished and
may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2002).
STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
Gary Michael Eastlack,
Commissioner of Public Safety,
Filed May 20, 2003
Anoka County District Court
File No. C1022375
Robert M. Christensen, P.L.C., Barrister Trust Building, 247 Third Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN 55415 (for appellant)
Mike Hatch, Attorney General, Sean McCarthy, Assistant Attorney General, 525 Park Street, Suite 500, St. Paul, MN 55103 (for respondent)
Considered and decided by Klaphake, Presiding Judge, Willis, Judge, and Hudson, Judge.
On appeal from the district court’s order sustaining the revocation of his driver’s license, appellant Gary Eastlack challenges the legality of the investigatory seizure that led to his arrest on charges of driving while impaired. Because the arresting officer was able to articulate a reasonable and particularized basis for suspecting appellant of criminal activity, we affirm.
This court reviews the district court’s findings on the legality of a search or seizure for clear error. In re Welfare of G.M., 560 N.W.2d 687, 690 (Minn. 1997). We conduct a de novo review of the district court’s determination of reasonable suspicion. Id.
In order to make an investigatory seizure, a police officer must have a “particularized and objective basis for suspecting the particular persons stopped of criminal activity.” State v. George, 557 N.W.2d 575, 578 (Minn. 1997) (quotation and emphasis omitted). Stated another way, the police must be able to “point to specific and articulable facts which, taken together with rational inferences from those facts, reasonably warrant that intrusion.” State v. Britton, 604 N.W.2d 84, 87 (Minn. 2000) (quotation omitted). This is not a high standard; even an insignificant traffic law violation can justify such a seizure. See George, 557 N.W.2d at 578.
Instead of personal observation, a police officer may rely on an informant’s tip or other source of credible information. G.M., 560 N.W.2d at 691. Generally, information from a citizen informant is presumed to be reliable. Jobe v. Comm’r. of Pub. Safety, 609 N.W.2d 919, 921 (Minn. App. 2000). This is particularly true where the citizen informant has provided enough information to be identified and held responsible for providing false information. Id. at 922. Here, the citizen informant met with the police officer face-to-face, a situation indicative of a high degree of credibility. See State v. Vereb, 643 N.W.2d 342, 347 (Minn. App. 2002).
The informant, an employee of Culver’s Restaurant, told the officer that appellant had driven past the drive-thru window several times in the middle of winter and that he was wearing no pants. Two of the informant’s co-workers confirmed these observations. The informant provided the make, model, and color of appellant’s car, as well as its license plate number. Although the informant and co-workers did not observe appellant’s genitalia, they all agreed that he wore neither pants nor other nether garment. Moments after receiving this information, the investigating officer observed appellant’s car parked a short distance from the restaurant. As the officer walked up to the car, he observed that appellant, indeed, was wearing no pants and had covered his lap with a jacket.
Appellant argues that because his genitalia were not visible, the officer had no reason to suspect him of the crime of indecent exposure and thus had no reasonable and particularized basis for an investigatory seizure. But observation of a violation is not necessary, and suspicious activity can provide a basis to investigate. State v. Pike, 551 N.W.2d 919, 921 (Minn. 1996); State v. Uber, 604 N.W.2d 799, 801 (Minn. App. 1999). Given the relatively low threshold requirement, which is less than probable cause, the police officer had reasonable and articulable facts on which to base an investigatory seizure. See Pike, 551 N.W.2d at 921-22.
Appellant contends that the officer seized him when he parked his squad car behind appellant’s car, before corroborating the informant’s tip with his own observation of appellant’s state of undress. Without this corroboration, argues appellant, the officer did not have a reasonable suspicion of criminal activity and therefore did not have a basis for an investigatory seizure. Based on the record before us, there are insufficient facts to suggest that the officer parked in a manner that would constitute a seizure. As a general principle, no seizure occurs when a police officer merely approaches an already parked vehicle. See State v. Vohnoutka, 292 N.W.2d 756, 757 (Minn. 1980); State v. McKenzie, 392 N.W.2d 345, 346-47 (Minn. App. 1986).
We therefore conclude that the officer had a particularized and objective basis to investigate and that the district court thus did not err in sustaining the revocation of appellant’s driver’s license.