This opinion will be unpublished and
may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2004).
IN COURT OF APPEALS
Alejandro Lopez Rendon,
Filed February 7, 2006
Clay County District Court
File No. KX-04-534
Mike Hatch, Attorney General,
Lisa N. Borgen, Clay County Attorney, Jenny M. Samarzja, Assistant County Attorney, 807 North Eleventh Street, P.O. Box 280, Moorhead, Minnesota 56561-0280 (for respondent)
John M. Stuart, State Public
Defender, Sharon E. Jacks, Assistant Public Defender,
Considered and decided by Hudson, Presiding Judge; Lansing, Judge; and Shumaker, Judge.
U N P U B L I S H E D O P I N I O N
On appeal from his conviction of driving after cancellation, appellant argues that the officer who responded to a domestic-dispute call did not have a reasonable, articulable suspicion to stop appellant’s van because it did not sufficiently match the vehicle description given. Appellant also argues that, even if the stop was valid, the officer impermissibly expanded its scope by asking appellant for identification. Because the officer had a sufficient reasonable, articulable suspicion to stop appellant’s van and investigate the domestic dispute, we affirm.
On February 8, 2004, Dilworth police officer Michael Rapp received a dispatch report detailing a domestic dispute in progress. According to the dispatch, the male suspect, whose last name was Rendon, left the scene in a blue Ford minivan. Officer Rapp did not receive the model of the minivan at that time. Shortly thereafter, Officer Rapp saw what he believed to be a blue minivan traveling from the general direction of the address given for the domestic dispute. Photographs demonstrate that the van was actually green with bluish undertones.
Officer Rapp ran a license plate registration check of the van and discovered that the van was registered to an Alice Rendon. The van had tinted rear windows, which prevented the officer from viewing the vehicle’s occupants. Officer Rapp stopped the van in a Wal-Mart parking lot. Appellant Alejandro Rendon was driving the vehicle. His wife, Alice Rendon, was a passenger.
Officer Rapp identified the driver as appellant by his state identification card. Appellant indicated that he did not have a valid driver’s license. Officer Rapp asked appellant if he had been involved in the domestic dispute; appellant denied any knowledge of or involvement in the incident. Officer Rapp then ran appellant’s identification information through the state computer and arrested appellant for driving after cancellation. Officer Rapp later learned that appellant was not involved in the domestic dispute.
The state charged appellant with one count of gross misdemeanor driving after cancellation in violation of Minn. Stat. § 171.24, subd. 5(1) (2002). Appellant challenged admission of the evidence recovered from the traffic stop, arguing that the officer lacked the required reasonable and articulable suspicion to stop the vehicle. Following a hearing, the district court denied appellant’s motion to suppress. Appellant waived his right to a jury trial and submitted the case to the district court on stipulated facts. The district court found appellant guilty and entered judgment. This appeal follows.
D E C I S I O N
Appellant challenges the
district court’s decision to admit evidence recovered pursuant to the
investigatory stop of appellant’s van. When
reviewing pretrial orders on motions to suppress evidence, this court
“independently review[s] the facts and determine[s], 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 (
Fourth Amendment guarantees “[t]he right of the people to be secure in their
persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and
A police officer may stop and
temporarily seize a person in order to investigate if the officer reasonably
suspects that person of criminal activity.
State v. Cripps, 533 N.W.2d
388, 391 (
Appellant argues that the district court erred in concluding that the stop of the van was constitutional because (a) the van’s color was not sufficiently similar to the van identified on the dispatch and (b) the vehicle’s registered owner, although a “Rendon,” was a woman and, therefore, not a male suspect leaving the scene of a domestic dispute. We disagree.
The totality of the circumstances supports the investigatory stop. Here, the officer saw a van that was similar, but not identical, in color to the suspect’s vehicle coming from the general direction of the dispute. Although the record does not reflect the exact amount of time between the report of the domestic dispute and the investigatory stop, the officer’s testimony suggests that there was not a significant time gap between the dispatch and the stop. Finally, while Officer Rapp could not identify the suspect visually because of the tinted windows, the officer knew that the vehicle was registered to an individual with the same last name as the suspect. An officer’s decision to conduct an investigatory stop is given considerable discretion, and “the decision to stop a vehicle very similar in body style but slightly lighter in color cannot be considered mere caprice or whim.” Waddell, 655 N.W.2d at 810; see also United States v. Collins, 532 F.2d 79, 83 (8th Cir. 1976) (upholding an investigatory stop of a vehicle that was not a perfect color match when the officer observed the vehicle three miles away from the scene within ten minutes of the time the bank was robbed).
appellant correctly notes,
Appellant next argues that Officer Rapp exceeded the permissible scope of the investigatory stop by asking for appellant’s identification after he discovered that the van contained a husband and wife who denied any involvement with a domestic dispute.
Article I, Section 10 of the
Minnesota Constitution imposes a reasonableness limitation on both the duration
and the scope of a Terry
detention. State v. Wiegand, 645 N.W.2d 125, 136 (
a preliminary issue, respondent argues that appellant waived this issue by not
raising it before the district court. See Roby v. State, 547 N.W.2d 354, 357 (
State v. Hickman, 491 N.W.2d 673 (
request for appellant’s identification was within the permissible scope of the
investigatory stop, however, because the request related to the original
purpose of the stop: determining whether appellant was the suspect. In order to avoid unnecessary confusion in
effectuating an investigatory stop, the United States Supreme Court and our
supreme court have consistently held that an officer may direct a lawfully
stopped person to provide identification.
See, e.g., State v. White, 489 N.W.2d 792, 793–94 (
Accordingly, the district court did not err in admitting evidence recovered pursuant to the investigatory stop. Because we conclude that appellant did not waive his permissible-scope argument, we decline to address appellant’s claim of ineffective assistance of counsel.