ORDER ON MOTION TO SUPPRESS
William R.Stokes Justice
matter is before the court on the Defendant's Motion to
Suppress dated February 15, 2018. The Motion seeks to
suppress evidence seized from the Defendant's person
after he was searched incident to his arrest on an
outstanding warrant. The Defendant claims that he was illegally
stopped by a law enforcement officer without reasonable
articulable suspicion while he was riding his bike. A hearing
on the motion was held on March 27, 2018 at which Waterville
Police Officer Cody Vigue testified. State's Exhibit 1
was admitted for impeachment purposes only. Defendant's
Exhibit 1 was received by the court as a summary of case law
prepared by defense counsel.
on the evidence presented at the hearing, the court makes the
following findings of fact.
19, 2017 at approximately 12:30 a.m. Officer Vigue was
patrolling down Main Street in Waterville when he saw a man
(later identified as the Defendant) on a bicycle peddling in
the opposite lane of travel. Officer Vigue testified that the
bicyclist was in the left lane but was travelling against the
flow of traffic. Nevertheless, the officer testified that he
did not stop the bicyclist for that reason. Rather, the
officer pulled his cruiser ahead of the bike rider and to the
right. He then got out of his cruiser, walked across the
street so that he was facing the oncoming bicycle and put his
hand up in what he described as a "wave." The
bicyclist stopped. Officer Vigue testified that he was not
blocking the path of the bicycle and that the bicyclist could
have driven past him.
bicyclist asked the officer if he was being detained, and the
officer replied that he was not. The officer explained that
he wanted to talk to the bike rider because he was looking
for information about a recent spate of motor vehicle
burglaries. Officer Vigue asked the man for identification
and the man stated that if he was not being detained he did
not need to produce any identification. The officer asked the
man for his name and the Defendant identified himself as John
Bishop but did not give a date of birth. The officer
apparently communicated with dispatch and learned that a John
Bishop with a DOB of 6/14/1980 was the subject of an
outstanding arrest warrant for an unpaid fine. The officer
asked the Defendant if June 14, 1980 was his date of birth
and the Defendant confirmed that it was.
Defendant was then placed under arrest, handcuffed and
searched. A single pill was found and the Defendant was
subsequently charged with unlawful possession of a Schedule W
drug, to wit, Methylphenidate.
Defendant contends that he was subjected to an illegal
investigatory stop that was not supported by reasonable
articulable suspicion. The State counters that Officer
Vigue's actions did not amount to a stop at all but was
more in the nature of a request to talk with the Defendant.
An encounter between a police officer and a citizen
implicates the Fourth Amendment only if the officer
'seizes' the citizen. We have held that a
'seizure' of the person occurs when 'the officer,
by means of physical force or show of authority, has in some
way restrained the liberty of the citizen' such that he
is not free to walk away.
We recognize, however, that 'not all personal intercourse
between policemen and citizens' is a seizure within the
meaning of the Fourth Amendment. Although the place where the
intrusion occurs is not the controlling determinant of the
seizure question, police officers do not violate the Fourth
Amendment by merely approaching an individual on the street
or in another public place, or asking her [him] if she [he]
is willing to answer some questions.
State v. Moulton, 1997 ME 228, ¶¶ 7-8, 704
A.2d 361 (citations omitted). See also United States v.
Mendenhall, 446 US. 544, 554 (1980) (a seizure occurs
when, under a totality of the circumstances, a reasonable
person would believe that he was not free to leave).
to the State's argument, the court finds that Officer
Vigue did effectuate a stop and "seizure" of the
Defendant on the morning of June 19, 2017. Any reasonable
person in the Defendant's position would believe that he
was required to stop when confronted by a uniformed police
officer standing in the middle of the road at 12:30 a.m. with
his hand up in the air - a clear indication that he was
directing the Defendant to stop. That stop was a restraint on
the Defendant's liberty and freedom of movement such that
he was not free to ignore the officer's perceived command
to stop and drive past him. ...