This opinion will be unpublished and
may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2006).
STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
State of Minnesota,
Filed September 18, 2007
Hennepin County District Court
File No. 04067990
Lori Swanson, Attorney General, 1800 Bremer Tower, 445 Minnesota Street, St. Paul, MN 55101-2134; and
Michael O. Freeman, Hennepin County Attorney, Thomas A. Weist, Assistant County Attorney, C-2000 Government Center, Minneapolis, MN 55487 (for respondent)
John M. Stuart, State Public Defender, Steven P. Russett, Assistant Public Defender, 2221 University Avenue Southeast, Suite 425, Minneapolis, MN 55414 (for appellant)
Considered and decided by Worke, Presiding Judge; Kalitowski, Judge; and Ross, Judge.
U N P U B L I S H E D O P I N I O N
Appellant McClendon Miller challenges his conviction of ineligible person in possession of a firearm in violation of Minn. Stat. §§ 624.713, subd. 1(b); 609.11 (2004), arguing that the district court erred by denying his motion to suppress because the stop was not supported by reasonable suspicion. We affirm.
D E C I S I O N
A Minneapolis police officer and his partner were driving
Appellant was charged with ineligible person in possession of a firearm in violation of Minn. Stat. §§ 624.713, subd. 1(b); 609.11 (2004). He moved to suppress the firearm, arguing that the stop of the van was not supported by reasonable suspicion or probable cause. The district court denied appellant’s motion, and he was convicted following a stipulated-facts trial.
Appellant now argues that the gun should be suppressed because at the time of the stop the officers did not have any indication that a crime had been committed. We disagree.
When reviewing pretrial
orders on motions to suppress evidence, this 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 (
It is undisputed by the parties here that the stop occurred when the squad car blocked the van’s path. And “[a] brief investigatory stop requires only reasonable suspicion of criminal activity.” State v. Waddell, 655 N.W.2d 803, 809 (Minn. 2003) (citation omitted). Thus, the only issue before this court is whether the stop was supported by reasonable suspicion.
The United States and Minnesota Constitutions protect against unreasonable searches and seizures. U.S. Const. amend. IV; Minn. Const. art. I, § 10. “The brief seizure of a person for investigatory purposes is not unreasonable if an officer has a particular and objective basis for suspecting the particular person [seized] of criminal activity.” Harris, 590 N.W.2d at 99 (quotation and citation omitted). But “a mere hunch, absent other objectively reasonable articulable facts, will not justify a seizure.” Id. (citation omitted). Suspicion is reasonable if the stop was “not the product of mere whim, caprice, or idle curiosity.” State v. Pike, 551 N.W.2d 919, 921 (Minn. 1996).
“The officer may justify his decision to seize a person based on the totality of the circumstances and may draw inferences and deductions that might elude an untrained person.” Harris, 590 N.W.2d at 99 (quotation and citation omitted). The justification may be “based upon the officer’s experience that criminal activity may be taking place and that the individual with whom the officer is confronted may be armed and capable of immediately causing serious harm.” Wold v. State, 430 N.W.2d 171, 174 (Minn. 1998). Otherwise innocent acts may also be considered factors in forming a reasonable suspicion. In re Welfare of M.D.R., 693 N.W.2d 444, 449 (Minn. App. 2005) (citing State v. Martinson, 581 N.W.2d 846, 852 (Minn. 1998)).
In Applegate v.
Comm’r of Pub. Safety, police responded within minutes to an early-morning
call reporting a burglary in progress at a large apartment complex. 402 N.W.2d 106, 107 (
We reject appellant’s argument that Applegate is distinguishable because in this case there was no underlying reported crime and the officers did not come upon a crime scene. Here, the totality of the circumstances provided the officers with a greater objective basis for the investigatory stop than the officer had in Applegate. The district court made a factual determination that the officer could correctly identify the sound of gunshots and the sound of ten gunshots in rapid succession alerted the officers to a possible crime. And even if discharging a firearm did not constitute a crime, it was an act that properly contributed to the officers’ reasonable suspicion.
In addition, the officers immediately responded to their personal observation of a rapid succession of gunshots, which leads to a strong inference of general criminal activity. And the inference of general criminal activity was strengthened and became particularized to appellant by the officers’ nearly contemporaneous viewing of appellant running away from the area from which the gunshots emanated. Finally, the inference that appellant may have been involved in the criminal activity was supported by his immediate entrance into a waiting van, which then attempted to leave the scene in haste.
We conclude the stop was justified because the totality of the facts presented the officers with a particular and objective basis to reasonably suspect that appellant was involved in criminal activity. Because the investigatory stop was based on reasonable suspicion the district court’s denial of appellant’s motion to suppress the firearm he abandoned while being chased by police was not erroneous.