FROM THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF NEW
HAMPSHIRE [Hon. Joseph A. DiClerico, Jr., U.S. District
Stanley W. Norkunas on brief for appellant.
R. Aframe, Assistant United States Attorney, and Scott W.
Murray, United States Attorney, on brief for appellee.
Torruella, Kayatta, and Barron, Circuit Judges.
KAYATTA, Circuit Judge.
Tanguay was seated in his car with a friend in a parking lot
when a local police officer approached and asked him several
questions. His answers led to a search, followed by the
seizure of evidence of potential drug trafficking. On this
appeal following his conviction under 21 U.S.C. §
841(a), Tanguay contends that the district court erred in
failing to suppress that evidence. For the following reasons,
we find the search and seizure to have been lawful, so we
recite the facts "as the trial court found them,
consistent with record support." United States
v. Ruidíaz, 529 F.3d 25, 27 (1st
Cir. 2008) (quoting United States v.
Lee, 317 F.3d 26, 30 (1st Cir. 2003)).
after midnight on March 31, 2016, police officer Adam Rayho
drove by a local strip mall in Nashua, New Hampshire while on
patrol. In the parking lot he saw an SUV parked apart from
any other vehicle and approximately 100 to 150 feet from a
Taco Bell restaurant, which had not yet closed. The only
other business in the vicinity that remained open was a
twenty minutes later, after responding to an unrelated call,
Rayho drove by the lot a second time. The lone SUV was still
parked in the same spot. He decided to investigate. He
entered the lot and pulled his marked cruiser seven to ten
feet behind the parked SUV without obstructing its path of
egress. Rayho illuminated the SUV with his floodlights and
activated the rear-facing -- but not the front-facing --
blue, flashing emergency lights atop his cruiser. The record
does not indicate whether the rear-facing flashing lights
were visible to the occupants of the parked SUV.
his weapon holstered, Rayho approached the driver-side of the
SUV with a flashlight in hand. He further illuminated the
interior of the SUV with his flashlight and asked the driver,
Eric Tanguay, and the passenger, Jacqueline, for their names,
which they provided. Recognizing Tanguay's name as a
reported user and dealer of illegal drugs, Rayho asked them
what they were doing in the parking lot so late. They replied
that they "were eating food from Taco Bell." Rayho
could see that was indeed the case and joked with them that
he also enjoyed Taco Bell.
asked the couple for their licenses. Both replied that they
were not carrying identification. When Rayho then asked who
owned the SUV, Tanguay stated that he did not own it. Rayho
finally asked Tanguay "if it would be all right if [he]
returned to [his] cruiser to conduct a [records] query on
him," to which Tanguay said it would be. At some point
during this initial encounter -- yet exactly when is unclear
from the record -- a second police officer arrived and parked
his cruiser behind Rayho's vehicle.
that point on, things went downhill quickly for Tanguay.
While sitting in his cruiser running the records check, Rayho
noticed Jacqueline crouch down and reach for something under
the front passenger seat. Rayho immediately returned to the
SUV and again asked Tanguay for identification. This time,
Tanguay said his license was in a backpack in the trunk of
the vehicle, and he requested permission to obtain it. Rayho
agreed that Tanguay could show him where in the trunk he
could find the license but stated that, for safety purposes,
he would be the one to retrieve it.
Tanguay opened his door to go to the trunk of the SUV, Rayho
saw what appeared to be the butt end of a gun stashed in the
driver-side door. Tanguay and Rayho walked to the rear of the
SUV and opened the trunk. Rayho then retrieved Tanguay's
license from a wallet stowed in a small pocket of the
backpack. Rayho noticed that the wallet contained a large sum