This opinion will be unpublished and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

A03-1652

 

 

In the Matter of the Welfare of:

K. J. E., Jr.

 

 

Filed July 13, 2004

Affirmed

Halbrooks, Judge

 

 

Hennepin County District Court

File Nos. 185043, J2-03-60324

 

 

Leonardo Castro, Fourth District Public Defender, Barbara S. Isaacman, Assistant Public Defender, 317 Second Avenue South, Suite 200, Minneapolis, MN 55401 (for appellant)

 

Mike Hatch, Attorney General, 445 Minnesota Street, 1800 NCL Tower, St. Paul, MN  55105-2134; and

 

Amy Klobuchar, Hennepin County Attorney, Linda M. Freyer, Assistant County Attorney, C-2000 Government Center, Minneapolis, MN 55487 (for respondent State of Minnesota)

 

 

            Considered and decided by Klaphake, Presiding Judge; Halbrooks, Judge; Forsberg, Judge.*

U N P U B L I S H E D  O P I N I O N

HALBROOKS, Judge

            Appellant was adjudicated delinquent on two counts of controlled-substance crime.  On appeal, he challenges the denial of his pretrial motion to suppress the drug evidence on the ground that the stop was unconstitutional.  We affirm.

FACTS

            On July 18, 2003, between 10:00 p.m. and 10:30 p.m., Officers Bedard and Collins were on patrol in a known high-crime area of Minneapolis when they received a call to investigate a disturbance involving a large number of people.  When the officers arrived, they observed two groups of eight to ten people yelling threats and profanity.  The people in the groups had their fists clenched and were in fighting stances.  The groups were composed of what appeared to be older teenagers.  Both officers observed appellant K.J.E., who was holding an object under his shirt at waist level.  Because of the disturbance, the officers were concerned that the object was a gun.

When appellant saw the officers, he started walking east, away from the officers, who were driving west.  The officers turned around.  Returning to the scene of the disturbance, they saw appellant then walking west, toward them.  As soon as appellant observed the officers, he again reversed direction and started walking east at a markedly faster pace.  The officers stopped and got out of their vehicle and ordered appellant to stop.

Appellant continued to walk away from the officers, turned south, and moved into a dark area.  He stated that he was doing nothing wrong.  The officers directed appellant to show his hands; instead of complying, he began digging through his clothing in the area of the concealed object.  The officers then drew their guns and restrained appellant, to prevent him from withdrawing what they suspected was a handgun.

Nothing was discovered at appellant’s waist.  When the officers searched the immediate area where appellant had walked, they found a brick of marijuana approximately three inches long, three inches wide, and one inch thick; crack cocaine was also found in appellant’s pocket.  Appellant was charged with two counts of controlled-substance crime.  Appellant moved to suppress the drug evidence on the ground that the officers’ stop of appellant was not based on reasonable, articulable suspicion and was, therefore, unconstitutional.  The district court denied the motion.  Following a court trial on stipulated facts, appellant was adjudicated delinquent.  This appeal follows.

D E C I S I O N

Both the United States and Minnesota constitutions protect against unreasonable searches and seizures.  U.S. Const. amend. IV; Minn. Const. art. I, § 10.  “Absent good reason, this court will apply federal interpretations to a state constitutional provision with ‘almost identical language to the federal.’”  City of New Brighton v. 2000 Ford Excursion, 622 N.W.2d 364, 368 (Minn. App. 2001) (quoting Hawes v. 1997 Jeep Wrangler, 602 N.W.2d 874, 877 (Minn. App. 1999)), review denied (Minn. Apr. 17, 2001).  Appellant argues that this right was infringed when the officers stopped him.  Constitutional issues are reviewed de novo.  State v. Wiegand, 645 N.W.2d 125, 129 (Minn. 2002).

In Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1, 22, 88 S. Ct. 1868, 1880 (1968), the Supreme Court ruled that, because there is a legitimate governmental interest in preventing and detecting crime, “a police officer may in appropriate circumstances and in an appropriate manner approach a person for purposes of investigating possible criminal behavior even though there is no probable cause to make an arrest.”  A stop is appropriate if a reasonable person with “the facts available to the officer at the moment of the seizure” would believe that the stop was justified.  Id. at 21-22, 88 S. Ct. at 1880.  The Minnesota Supreme Court has stated that a lawful stop is one “based on specific, articulable facts,” not an inarticulate hunch.  State v. Cripps, 533 N.W.2d 388, 391-92 (Minn. 1995).

Here, upon first spotting the officers, appellant began walking away from them.  He reversed his direction once the officers were out of sight and moved in the same direction they had gone, only to reverse his course again and move more quickly once he saw that the officers were returning.  The fact that appellant’s behavior could reasonably be construed by the officers as an attempt to evade them gave the officers reasonable suspicion to stop appellant without more.  State v. Johnson, 444 N.W.2d 824, 827 (Minn. 1989).  But in this instance, the officers had additional bases to contribute to a reasonable, articulable suspicion of criminal activity.

Appellant was involved in a disturbance in a high-crime area.  While these facts alone do not establish a reasonable suspicion, they are part of the totality of the circumstances involved that night.  See City of St. Paul v. Uber, 450 N.W.2d 623, 628 (Minn. App. 1990) (stating that the fact that an area is a high-crime area is not sufficient reason to stop someone in that area), review denied (Minn. Mar. 22, 1990); but see Cripps, 533 N.W.2d at 391 (stating that the all of the facts and circumstances must be considered).  More importantly, appellant, who appeared to the officers to be in his late teens, appeared to be carrying a concealed weapon in violation of Minn. Stat. § 624.714, subd. 2(b)(2) (Supp. 2003), which provides that only those persons 21 years of age or older may obtain permits to lawfully carry concealed handguns.  On this record, we conclude that the officers had a reasonable, articulable suspicion of criminal activity to stop appellant. 

The other issues that appellant raises on appeal were not raised below and are therefore waived on appeal.  Roby v. State, 547 N.W.2d 354, 357 (Minn. 1996).

Affirmed.

 



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