This opinion will be unpublished and
may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2006).
IN COURT OF APPEALS
Ricardo Diaz Roque,
Filed May 15, 2007
Affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded
Ramsey County District Court
File No. K1-05-1497
Lori Swanson, Attorney General, 1800
Susan Gaertner, Ramsey County Attorney, Mark Nathan Lystig, Assistant County Attorney, 50 Kellogg Boulevard West, Suite 315, St. Paul, MN 55102 (for respondent)
John M. Stuart, State Public Defender, Leslie J. Rosenberg,
Assistant Public Defender,
Considered and decided by Ross, Presiding Judge; Kalitowski, Judge; and Halbrooks, Judge.
Appellant challenges the district court’s decision not to suppress evidence seized by law enforcement during an investigatory stop of his vehicle, arguing that the stop was not supported by a reasonable, articulable suspicion of criminal activity. Appellant also contends that the district court abused its discretion by denying his motion for disclosure and an in-camera review of the arresting officer’s nonpublic internal-affairs records. Because we conclude that the district court did not abuse its discretion by denying appellant’s motion to disclose the arresting officer’s nonpublic records, we affirm in part. But because we conclude that law enforcement did not have a reasonable, articulable suspicion of criminal activity to justify an investigatory stop of appellant’s vehicle, we reverse in part and remand.
Investigator Christopher Murray of
the Woodbury Police Department was assigned to investigate an armed robbery
that was believed to have been committed by Luis Enrique Diaz, appellant
Ricardo Diaz Roque’s brother.
After reading the pick-up-and-hold issued by Investigator Murray, Officer Patrick Scott of the St. Paul Police Department went to the eastern district team office to get more background on Diaz. Officer Scott obtained additional information about Diaz, including addresses associated with Diaz, appellant’s name and address, a description of appellant’s vehicle, and the address for Diaz’s sister.
On the afternoon of April 26, 2005, Officer Scott went to Diaz’s sister’s residence and set up surveillance in an attempt to catch Diaz coming or going from the residence. Officer Scott had a photo of Diaz, and he saw that the red Chrysler Sebring, described as Diaz’s car, was parked in the driveway. Officer Scott observed a number of vehicles come and go from the residence, and he followed some of them in an attempt to see if Diaz was inside. But Officer Scott did not see Diaz in any of the vehicles.
9:15 p.m., Officer Scott saw a GMC Envoy matching the description of the
vehicle owned by appellant leave Diaz’s sister’s residence. Because Officer Scott believed that Diaz
might be in the vehicle, he decided to stop it, whether or not the driver
committed any traffic-law violation.
Before making the stop, Officer Scott communicated to assisting officers
that if Diaz was not actually in the vehicle, he would make up an explanation
for the occupants as to why he stopped the vehicle and state that the vehicle
was stopped because it was suspected of being involved in a robbery in
the vehicle onto Interstate 35E, Officer Scott activated the red lights on his
patrol car. But the vehicle did not stop
and, instead, exited on
charged with first-degree possession of a controlled substance in violation of
Minn. Stat. § 152.021, subds. 2(1), 3(a) (2004). Appellant subsequently moved to suppress the
evidence, arguing that the seizure was unlawful because Officer Scott “lacked
reasonable or articulable suspicion or probable cause to initiate a traffic
stop of the vehicle [appellant] was driving.”
Appellant also moved for disclosure and an in-camera review of Officer
Scott’s nonpublic internal-affairs records.
The City of
The district court denied appellant’s motion for disclosure of nonpublic records and appellant’s request to conduct an in-camera review of the records. In addition, the district court denied appellant’s motion to suppress the cocaine. Appellant was subsequently convicted of first-degree possession of controlled substances and sentenced to 158 months in prison. This appeal follows.
Appellant challenges the district court’s denial of his motion to suppress the evidence seized as a result of a stop of his vehicle on the ground that Officer Scott had no reasonable, articulable basis to believe that the suspect, Luis Diaz, was in his vehicle when the stop was made.
Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution and article I, section 10,
of the Minnesota Constitution guarantee individuals the right to be free from
unreasonable searches and seizures by the government of “persons, houses,
papers and effects.” We review pretrial motions to suppress evidence by independently
considering the facts to determine whether, as a matter of law, the district
court erred in its decision to suppress or not suppress the evidence. State
v. Kouba, 709 N.W.2d 299, 304 (
parties largely fail to address it, the first issue here is to determine
whether appellant was “seized” when Officer Scott activated the red lights of
the squad car in an attempt to stop appellant and before appellant abandoned
the bag of drugs. “A seizure has occurred when an officer,
through physical force or show of authority, has in some way restrained the
liberty of a citizen. State v. Hanson, 501 N.W.2d 677, 679 (
under all the circumstances, a reasonable person would have believed that because of the conduct of the police he was not free to leave, then there was a “seizure,” and the police must be able to articulate reasonable suspicion justifying the seizure, else any evidence that is the fruit of the seizure is suppressible.
E.D.J., police officers on patrol saw
three men standing on a street corner known for drug trafficking. 502 N.W.2d at 780. When the three men saw the patrol car
approaching them, they turned and began walking in the opposite direction.
E.D.J. brought a motion to suppress
the evidence, which the district court denied, concluding that E.D.J. abandoned
the drugs before he was seized “and that therefore the abandonment was not the
suppressible fruit of any illegal conduct.”
Other cases have examined the
question of whether an officer’s act of turning on a squad car’s flashing
lights constitutes a seizure. In Hanson, an officer on routine patrol
noticed a van stopped on the shoulder of a highway with its lights turned
off. 501 N.W.2d at 678. The officer observed defendant outside of the
van, near the front passenger-side tire.
Defendant later moved to suppress
the evidence, arguing that the initial stop was unlawful.
But on appeal, the Minnesota Supreme
Court reversed and reinstated defendant’s conviction. State
v. Hanson, 504 N.W.2d 219, 219 (
The problem with the court of appeals’ decision is that it in effect says that whenever an officer turns on the squad car’s flashing red lights before getting out and approaching an already stopped car, the officer turns the encounter into a seizure. It may be that in many fact situations the officer’s use of the flashing lights likely would signal to a reasonable person that the officer is attempting to seize the person for investigative purposes. In this case, however, under all the facts, the officer’s conduct would not have communicated to a reasonable person in these physical circumstances that the officer was attempting to seize the person. A reasonable person would have assumed that the officer was not doing anything other than checking to see what was going on and to offer help if needed. A reasonable person in such a situation would not be surprised at the use of the flashing lights. It was dark out and the cars were on the shoulder of the highway far from any town. A reasonable person would know that while flashing lights may be used as a show of authority, they also serve other purposes, including warning oncoming motorists in such a situation to be careful.
Hanson, 504 N.W.2d at 220.
We conclude that the facts here are more akin to E.D.J. and are distinguishable from Hanson. Similar to the verbal command in E.D.J., the red lights of a pursuing patrol car instruct a driver to stop. And unlike the facts in Hanson, appellant’s vehicle was not already stopped when Officer Scott activated his red lights. Therefore, a reasonable person here would not have assumed that Officer Scott was merely “checking to see what was going on and to offer help if needed,” as in Hanson. 504 N.W.2d at 220. Instead, a reasonable person in appellant’s position would have believed that the officer was attempting to seize him for investigatory purposes and that he was not free to leave. Accordingly, we conclude that appellant was “seized” when Officer Scott turned on his red squad car lights and attempted to stop appellant.
we conclude that there was a “seizure” when Officer Scott attempted to stop
appellant by activating the red lights on his patrol car, “the question becomes
whether [Officer Scott] articulated a sufficient basis for the stop.” E.D.J.,
502 N.W.2d at 783. As a general rule, a
Fourth Amendment challenge to the reasonableness of a traffic stop is analyzed
under the principles governing investigatory stops as set forth by the United
States Supreme Court in Terry v. Ohio,
392 U.S. 1, 88 S. Ct. 1868 (1968). State v. Askerooth, 681 N.W.2d 353, 360
challenges the validity of the initial stop, and thus our focus is on the first
prong of the Terry inquiry. A police officer may conduct a limited stop
to investigate suspected criminal activity if the officer can point to
“specific and articulable facts which, taken together with rational inferences
from those facts, reasonably warrant the intrusion.” State
v. Pike, 551 N.W.2d 919, 921-22 (
Appellant argues that the stop of his vehicle was not reasonable because the sole basis for the stop was Officer Scott’s hunch that appellant’s brother might be in the vehicle. The district court denied appellant’s motion to suppress the evidence seized, finding that
Officer Scott had a reasonable basis to stop the vehicle in order to determine whether Luis Diaz was in that car. If he had stopped the car before the defendant tossed the drugs, we don’t know what would have happened but it is doubtful that he could have done anything other than approach the car, quickly determine who was in the car; and after seeing that Luis was not in the car, go back to his squad and drive away. It is not illegal to tell the driver that he stopped it for another reason under these circumstances. . . . In this circumstance, there was no seizure. It was a traffic stop. Such a traffic stop to assist another department in investigation of a crime, and to try to arrest a person on probable cause that he committed an aggravated robbery justifies the minimal intrusion of stopping the car so that the officer could see who was in the car.
We disagree. Officer Scott testified at the suppression hearing that prior to driving by Diaz’s sister’s residence, he had a “hunch” that Diaz might be at the house. But despite the fact that Officer Scott saw Diaz’s vehicle parked in his sister’s driveway and conducted a fairly lengthy surveillance of Diaz’s sister’s residence, he never saw Diaz. Further, although Officer Scott made an attempt to check other vehicles that left Diaz’s sister’s residence, Officer Scott was not able to position himself to see the occupants of all of these vehicles, and thus did not entirely eliminate the possibility that Diaz, even if he was there, left by other means. In addition, Officer Scott did not see Diaz in appellant’s vehicle as it left his sister’s residence and had no reasonable basis to suspect that Diaz might be inside. Instead, Officer Scott testified that prior to the stop, he “believed it would most likely be [appellant]” in the vehicle, rather than Diaz. As a result, the stop of appellant’s vehicle was based on Officer Scott’s hunch that Diaz might be in the vehicle simply because appellant was Diaz’s brother. It was at that time, and not after the baggie was tossed out, that Officer Scott decided that he would stop the vehicle. Therefore, we conclude that the district court erred when it determined that there was a reasonable, articulable suspicion of criminal activity that justified an investigatory stop of appellant’s vehicle.
It is well established that
“evidence discovered by exploiting previous illegal conduct is inadmissible.” State v. Olson, 634 N.W.2d 224, 229 (Minn. App. 2001) (citing Wong
Sun v. United States, 371
also argues that the district court abused its discretion by denying his motion
for disclosure and an in-camera review of Officer Scott’s nonpublic
internal-affairs records. “A [district]
court has considerable discretion in granting or denying discovery requests and
its decision will not be reversed absent a clear abuse of discretion.” State
v. Renneke, 563 N.W.2d 335, 337 (
The Minnesota Government Data Practices Act governs the release of information in a police officer’s internal affairs file. Minn. Stat. § 13.03, subd. 1 (2006), provides that “[a]ll government data collected, created, received, maintained or disseminated by a government entity shall be public unless classified by statute, or temporary classification pursuant to section 13.06, or federal law, as nonpublic or protected nonpublic, or with respect to data on individuals, as private or confidential.” Only the following two types of complaint data in an officer’s internal affairs file is public information or data: (1) “the existence and status of any complaints or charges against the employee, regardless of whether the complaint or charge resulted in a disciplinary action,” Minn. Stat. § 13.43, subd. 2(a)(4) (2006), and (2) “the final disposition of any disciplinary action together with the specific reasons for the action and data documenting the basis of the action, excluding data that would identify confidential sources who are employees of the public body.” Minn. Stat. § 13.43, subd. 2(a)(5) (2006). Minn. Stat. § 13.03, subd. 3(a) (2006), further states that “[u]pon request to a responsible authority or designee, a person shall be permitted to inspect and copy public government data at reasonable times and places, and, upon request, shall be informed of the data’s meaning.”
If a government entity opposes discovery of government data or release of data pursuant to court order on the grounds that the data are classified as not public, the party that seeks access to the data may bring before the appropriate presiding judicial officer, arbitrator, or administrative law judge an action to compel discovery or an action in the nature of an action to compel discovery.
The presiding officer shall first decide whether the data are discoverable or releasable pursuant to the rules of evidence and of criminal, civil, or administrative procedure appropriate to the action.
If the data are discoverable the presiding officer shall decide whether the benefit to the party seeking access to the data outweighs any harm to the confidentiality interests of the entity maintaining the data, or of any person who has provided the data or who is the subject of the data, or to the privacy interest of an individual identified in the data. In making the decision, the presiding officer shall consider whether notice to the subject of the data is warranted and, if warranted, what type of notice must be given. The presiding officer may fashion and issue any protective orders necessary to assure proper handling of the data by the parties.
Thus, Minn. Stat. § 13.03, subd. 6, mandates a two-step process when a government entity opposes discovery of nonpublic data. First, the district court must determine whether the data is discoverable pursuant to, in part, the Rules of Evidence and Criminal Procedure. Second, if the data is discoverable under the relevant rules, the district court must weigh the interests involved by conducting an in-camera review of the nonpublic data. See Renneke, 563 N.W.2d at 338 (stating that “[t]he Act allows disclosure of nonpublic data if the court has determined that the data are discoverable under applicable rules (including the rules of criminal procedure), and if the court finds that the benefits to the party seeking access outweigh any harm to the confidentiality interests involved”).
the St. Paul Police Department voluntarily disclosed the public
internal-affairs records of Officer Scott to the district court and to the
attorneys involved, including information regarding complaints and
reprimands. But the City of
The district court recognized that appellant “want[ed] access to the nonpublic Internal Affairs records of Officer Scott in order to see whether those records contain incidents in which Officer Scott was alleged or found to be untruthful.” But the district court determined that under Minn. R. Evid. 608 “[p]ast incidents of untruthfulness on the part of the officer would not be admissible” as “[t]he Rules of Evidence do not allow an attorney to ask the witness about an extrinsic incident from an Internal Affairs record to prove ‘bad conduct’ of an officer witness.” Therefore, the district court concluded:
The [appellant] has not proven that the requested nonpublic data is discoverable or releasable because it is relevant and admissible pursuant to statutory law, case law, the Minnesota Rules of Evidence and the Minnesota Rules of Criminal [P]rocedure. Therefore, the first threshold requirement of Minnesota Statutes section 13.03, subdivision 6 for disclosure of not public data has not been met. That first threshold must be met before this [c]ourt can order an in camera review of the Internal Affairs record of the officer which contained nonpublic data.
Appellant argues that the nonpublic data is discoverable because the prior complaints against Officer Scott demonstrate that he routinely stopped cars without a sufficient legal basis and, therefore, would have been admissible as reverse-Spreigl evidence. Appellant further contends that “[t]he records would have allowed the [appellant] to show the officer’s prejudice and to impeach his credibility.” We disagree.
Specific instances of the conduct of a witness, for the purpose of attacking or supporting the witness’ credibility, other than conviction of crime as provided in Rule 609, may not be proved by extrinsic evidence. They may, however, in the discretion of the court, if probative of truthfulness or untruthfulness, be inquired into on cross-examination of the witness (1) concerning the witness’ character for truthfulness or untruthfulness, or (2) concerning the character for truthfulness or untruthfulness of another witness as to which character the witness being cross-examined has testified.
Rule 608(b) plainly states that Officer Scott’s specific instances of conduct may not be proved using extrinsic evidence if used to attack his credibility as a witness. See also Renneke, 563 N.W.2d at 339 (stating that “[t]o allow discovery of prior complaints against an officer solely on the ground that they may possibly bear on the officer’s credibility is too broad. It could support such disclosure in almost every criminal prosecution”). Therefore, we conclude that the district court did not abuse its discretion by determining that Officer Scott’s internal-affairs records are not discoverable for purposes of attacking his credibility.
But appellant also argues that
Officer Scott’s prior misconduct could be admissible as reverse-Spreigl evidence. “In
Appellant argues that the prior complaints filed against Officer Scott would demonstrate that he “routinely stopped cars without sufficient legal basis” and that Officer Scott therefore improperly stopped appellant. But appellant does not offer any caselaw addressing the use of reverse-Spreigl evidence against a witness so as to attack the witness’s credibility, nor demonstrate that any potential previous complaints against Officer Scott were “sufficiently similar” to Officer Scott’s stop of appellant. In addition, it is unclear why Officer Scott’s alleged history of improper stops is relevant to a determination here as to whether he had a reasonable, articulable suspicion of criminal wrongdoing to make this stop. Therefore, we conclude that the district court did not abuse its discretion by rejecting appellant’s argument that any prior misconduct committed by Officer Scott is admissible as reverse-Spreigl evidence. Furthermore, because we affirm the district court’s conclusion that the nonpublic data is not discoverable pursuant to the Rules of Evidence and Criminal Procedure, we conclude that the district court did not abuse its discretion by declining to weigh the interests involved by conducting an in-camera review of the nonpublic data under Minn. Stat. § 13.03, subd. 6.
Affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded.
 Despite the fact that evidence discovered in
violation of article I, section 10, must generally be excluded, when the
evidence is abandoned, “the owner no longer has a reasonable expectation of privacy
and the exclusionary rule will not apply.”
State v. Askerooth, 681 N.W.2d 353, 370 (