ORDER ON MOTION TO SUPPRESS
seeks suppression of evidence on the ground that there was no
reasonable articulable suspicion to stop him and no probable
cause for his arrest. A hearing was held on Defendant's
motion on October 4, 2016. Assistant District Attorney
Deborah Chmielewski appeared on behalf of the State.
Defendant appeared, represented by Attorney Molly Butler
Bailey. The court heard testimony from Officers Nicholas
Gowen and Kevin Murphy, and admitted several exhibits into
evidence, including a video recording viewed in chambers
after the hearing concluded. In addition to the evidence
adduced at hearing and through the video, the court has
considered counsel's written closing arguments, filed
October 6, 2016 and October 7, 2016, respectively, as well as
a photograph filed with Defendant's Closing Statement.
standard governing automotive stops is well-established:
"[A] police officer must have an objectively reasonable,
articulable suspicion that either criminal conduct, a civil
violation, or a threat to public safety has occurred, is
occurring, or is about to occur. The officer's suspicion
that any of these circumstances exist must be objectively
reasonable in the totality of the circumstances."
See, e.g., State v. Porter, 2008 ME 175, ¶ 8,
960 A.2d 321, 323 (citing State v. Sylvain, 2003 ME
5, ¶ 11, 814 A.2d 984, 987).
this standard, the court concludes that Officer Gowen had
reasonable, articulable suspicion to stop Defendant's
vehicle. Officer Gowen testified that while patrolling in his
cruiser he observed a silver SUV bearing a license plate that
was familiar to him because of a previous incident in which
the SUV had eluded police. He observed the driver to be a
black male with curly hair and a goatee, wearing a
distinctive black and white checkered shirt. Based on a
photograph obtained following the previous police chase,
Officer Gowen testified that the driver's appearance
matched that of the vehicle's registered owner's son.
When Office Gowen reversed and began following the SUV, the
vehicle abruptly accelerated and made a sharp right turn,
followed by a second sharp right turn, after which Officer
Gowen lost sight of the SUV. Based on these observations, a
law enforcement officer would have reasonable articulable
suspicion to stop the SUV and detain the driver.
evidence establishes, further, that the Portland police had
probable cause to arrest Defendant. After the SUV eluded
Officer Gowen, he radioed for other officers to keep an eye
out for the vehicle and drove around the area until he saw
the SUV parked in a driveway, unoccupied, and saw three black
males heading into the woods, including a male wearing a
black and white checkered shirt. Minutes later, a young black
male wearing a black and white checkered shirt was stopped
and detained by Officer Stickney. Although Officer Stickney
was not present at the hearing, Officer Murphy testified that
he assisted Officer Stickney in detaining Defendant until
Officer Gowen arrived. Officer Murphy testified that
Defendant was sweaty and out-of-breath, consistent with
having run from the woods where he was last seen by Officer
Gowen. When Officer Gowen arrived on the scene, he gave
Defendant Miranda warnings, reading off of Officer
Murphy's laminated card.
support of his motion to suppress, Defendant asserts that
"The inconsistencies in Officer Gowen's statements
... make his account and description of the incident
suspicious at best. His vague description of the driver was
also not particular enough for Officer Stickney to detain Mr.
Hersi in handcuffs." Defendant's Closing Statement
at 4. The court is not persuaded by this argument, which is
predicated, essentially, on the contention that Officer
Gowen's testimony lacks credibility. Having had the
opportunity to assess the officer's testimony at hearing,
the court finds Officer Gowen's testimony to be credible.
Based on that testimony, the court finds Officer Gowen's
account of the circumstances of Defendant's stop and
arrest, as well as his description of the driver (a young
black male wearing a black and white checkered
shirt)sufficient to support reasonable
articulable suspicion to stop Defendant and probable cause to
having considered the evidence in light of the governing
standards, the court finds that Defendant's stop and
arrest did not offend Defendant's constitutional rights.
It is accordingly hereby ORDERED that Defendant's Motion
to Suppress is DENIED.
Defendant's Closing Statement
directs the court's attention to Commonwealth v.
Warren,475 Mass. 530 (Bos. Mun. Ct. 2016). The court
finds Warren to be distinguishable, as in that case
police had only a "vague description of the
perpetrators" of a burglary, leading them to detain
"a random black male in dark clothing" based on a
hunch that he might be a suspect in the crime of breaking and
entering. In contrast, here Officer Gowen's testimony
supports individualized suspicion based on the vehicle's
license plate, his observation of the driver, and his