This opinion will be unpublished and

may not be cited except as provided by

Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2004).






State of Minnesota,





Curtis Anthony Square-El,



Filed December 26, 2006


Kalitowski, Judge


Ramsey County District Court

File No. K3-04-3922


Mike Hatch, Attorney General, 1800 Bremer Tower, 445 Minnesota Street, St. Paul, MN 55101-2134; and


Susan Gaertner, Ramsey County Attorney, Patrick J. Swift, 50 West Kellogg Boulevard, Suite 315, St. Paul, MN 55102 (for respondent)


Thomas L. Donohue, Special Assistant State Public Defender, 101 East Fifth Street, 1800 U.S. Bank Center, St. Paul, MN 55101 (for appellant)


            Considered and decided by Lansing, Presiding Judge; Kalitowski, Judge; and Crippen, Judge.*

U N P U B L I S H E D   O P I N I O N


            Appellant Curtis Anthony Square-El challenges his conviction of controlled substance crime in the fifth degree, contending that the district court erred by admitting into evidence the crack cocaine seized from appellant.  We affirm. 


            “When reviewing pretrial orders on motions to suppress evidence, [an appellate 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).  This court reviews de novo the district court’s determination of whether a search or seizure was justified by reasonable suspicion or probable cause.  State v. Lee, 585 N.W.2d 378, 382-83 (Minn. 1998).  A district court’s factual findings are subject to a clearly erroneous standard of review.  Id. at 383.  Here, because the facts are undisputed, our review is de novo. 

            An investigative stop is lawful if it is based on a reasonable and articulable suspicion of imminent or ongoing criminal activity.  State v. Britton, 604 N.W.2d 84, 87 (Minn. 2000).  To determine the propriety of an investigative stop, an appellate court “review[s] the events surrounding the stop and consider[s] the totality of the circumstances in determining whether the police had a reasonable basis justifying the stop.”  Id. at 87 (citing United States v. Cortez, 449 U.S. 411, 417, 101 S. Ct. 690, 695 (1981)).  

            Here, it is undisputed that the officers were justified in initiating the stop.  The officers stopped the automobile in which appellant was a passenger for making an abrupt left turn without signaling and for speeding. 

            The detention of a person stopped may continue only as long as reasonably necessary to effectuate the purpose of the stop.  State v. Doren, 654 N.W.2d 137, 141 (Minn. App. 2002), review denied (Minn. Feb. 26, 2003).  Expansion of the scope of investigative stops is permitted where a police officer identifies a particularized basis for suspecting criminal activity.  State v. Volkman, 675 N.W.2d 337, 341 (Minn. App. 2004).  The supreme court,  in State v. Askerooth, explained the standard to apply in reviewing the expansion of a traffic stop:

            In essence, Article I, Section 10 of the Minnesota Constitution requires that each incremental intrusion during a traffic stop be tied to and justified by one of the following: (1) the original legitimate purpose of the stop, (2) independent probable cause, or (3) reasonableness, as defined in Terry.  Furthermore, the basis for the intrusion must be individualized to the person toward whom the intrusion is directed.


State v. Askerooth, 681 N.W.2d 353, 365 (Minn. 2004). 

            Appellant argues that the officers improperly approached the stopped car with their guns drawn.  We disagree.  The officers’ actions were in direct response to the actions of the car’s occupants.  The record supports the district court’s finding that this was a “highly dangerous and rapidly unfolding situation in which the officers reasonably were concerned for their safety.”  First, the car came to an abrupt stop, which is not common in a traffic stop.  Second, the occupants made frantic and blatant movements as if trying to hide something or to reach for weapons.  Third, the occupants disobeyed the officers’ commands to show their hands.  On these facts we cannot say that it was unreasonable for the officers to approach the vehicle with their guns drawn. 

            We also reject appellant’s argument that it was not reasonable for the officers to expand the scope to include appellant, a passenger.  The record indicates that the officers observed appellant making rapid movements and hunching over, as if reaching for a possible weapon.  And appellant did not initially respond to the officers’ requests to show his hands.  The officers testified that they were concerned for their safety.  Thus, we conclude that, under Askerooth, it was reasonable for one of the officers to remove appellant from the car to conduct a weapons pat-down search as a safety precaution.  It was during this weapons search that the officer found a lump of marijuana in appellant’s belt and discovered the crack cocaine that fell out of appellant’s pant leg.   

            The record supports a finding that in conducting the stop and investigation, the officers’ actions were reasonable and appropriate under the totality of the circumstances.  Thus, we conclude that the district court did not err in denying appellant’s motion to suppress the evidence of crack cocaine.


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