may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (1998).
STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
James Douglas Weiland, petitioner,
Commissioner of Public Safety,
Filed July 27, 1999
Wright County District Court
File No. C3982097
Mike Hatch, Attorney General, Sheila M. Fitzgerald, Assistant Attorney General, 525 Park Street, Suite 200, St. Paul, MN 55103-2106 (for respondent)
Considered and decided by Short, Presiding Judge, Peterson, Judge, and Shumaker, Judge.
In this appeal from an order sustaining the revocation of his driver's license, appellant James Douglas Weiland argues that the district court erred because police lacked sufficient cause to stop his van, and, therefore, the stop violated his constitutional right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures. We affirm.
At about 10:20 p.m. on July 17, 1998, deputy sheriff Brian Johnson investigated a report of gunshots fired near Linden and Maple Streets in the city of Rockford. Two witnesses told Johnson that they heard gunshots. Johnson looked around the wooded area for five or ten minutes. As Johnson left the woods, he saw a man get into a white van and drive away. Johnson followed the van to a nearby mobile home park and stopped the driver, James Weiland. During the stop, Johnson determined that Weiland was under the influence of alcohol and arrested him for DWI. Weiland's driver's license was revoked pursuant to the implied consent law, Minn. Stat. § 169.123, subd. 2 (1998). Following a judicial review hearing, the district court sustained the revocation.
The district court did not issue any written findings. It simply entered an order sustaining the revocation of Weiland's license. Because Johnson was the only witness at the hearing, it appears that the district court accepted Johnson's version of the events. Where the district court credits the testimony of the arresting officer and facts are not significantly in dispute, this court's review simply involves an analysis of the officer's testimony to "determine whether, as a matter of law, his observations provided an adequate basis for the stop." Berge v. Commissioner of Pub. Safety, 374 N.W.2d 730, 732 (Minn. 1985).
In determining the validity of an investigative stop, this court examines the totality of the circumstances, giving due regard to an officer's training and experience in law enforcement. State v. Kvam, 336 N.W.2d 525, 528 (Minn. 1983) (citing United States v. Cortez, 449 U.S. 411, 418, 101 S. Ct. 690, 695 (1981)). The totality of the circumstances includes:
the officer's general knowledge and experience, the officer's personal observations, information the officer has received from other sources, the nature of the offense suspected, the time, the location, and anything else that is relevant.
Appelgate v. Commissioner of Pub. Safety, 402 N.W.2d 106, 108 (Minn. 1987).
Peace officers are allowed to make deductions and draw inferences "that might well elude an untrained person." Berge, 374 N.W.2d at 732 (quoting Cortez, 449 U.S. at 418, 101 S. Ct. at 695). Nevertheless, the officer must have "objective support for his belief that the person is involved in criminal activity." State v. George, 557 N.W.2d 575, 578 (Minn. 1997).
A constitutionally valid stop requires that the law enforcement officer have a "particularized and objective" suspicion that the person stopped may have been engaged in criminal activity. Berge, 374 N.W.2d at 732 (quoting Cortez, 449 U.S. at 417-18, 101 S. Ct. at 694-95).
Weiland argues that Johnson lacked sufficient articulable grounds to form a reasonable belief that he was engaged in criminal activity when he was stopped. He concludes, therefore, that the evidence obtained as a result of the stop, which provided the basis for revoking his license, was inadmissible, and the district court erred by sustaining the license revocation. We disagree.
Johnson testified that the area where the shots were believed to have been fired is known for its juvenile criminal activity; that he had received several calls dealing with this particular area in the two weeks before this incident; that it is rare to see vehicles in the fenced-in area where the van was parked; that the van was close to the area where the witnesses reported hearing the gunshots; and that a short amount of time passed between the report of shots being fired and his observations of appellant.
Under the totality of these circumstances, Johnson's observations provided an adequate basis for the stop. Johnson articulated a particularized, objective basis for suspecting that Weiland may have been involved in the shots-fired incident that Johnson was investigating. See Thomeczek v. Commissioner of Pub. Safety, 364 N.W.2d 471, 472 (Minn. App. 1985) (holding investigatory stop justified where officer observed vehicle legally parked late at night in area of residential construction where burglary, vandalism, or theft might occur); State v. Moffatt, 450 N.W.2d 116, 119 (Minn. 1990) (stop of only vehicle near vicinity of reported burglary valid even though no description of suspect's vehicle).