ORDER ON DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO SUPPRESS
seeks to suppress evidence obtained by law enforcement as a
result of the stop and detention of defendant. He argues the
police officer improperly removed him from the vehicle,
frisked him, and seized evidence. For the following reasons,
the motion is granted.
Jeffrey Edwards has been employed with the South Portland
Police Department since January 2019. He received training,
including training at the Maine Criminal Justice Academy.
28, 2019, he was working the night shift and was in uniform
and operating a marked cruiser. At 1:30 a.m., he pulled over
a vehicle travelling north bound on I-295 that was travelling
71 m.p.h. in a 55 m.p.h. zone. Just prior to the stop,
Officer Edwards noticed the lid of a pizza box in the rear
window was lifted up, the hand of the right back seat
passenger reached inside, and then the lid moved back down.
This move appeared furtive and odd to Officer Edwards, as
though the person was concealing weapons or illicit
substances. Officer Edwards later saw a piece of pizza in
this passenger's hand.
Edwards ran the names of the occupants of the vehicle.
Gabrielle Luca, the operator, was on a deferred disposition.
Innocent Hoan, the front passenger, was on probation with
conditions of a curfew and that he not possess weapons. No
information was obtained about Defendant Abdullahi Isack, who
was the right backseat passenger. Defendant was very quiet,
did not move in his seat, waited for the police to approach
him, and did not make eye contact.
Edwards ordered the occupants to exit the vehicle. The front
seat passenger was searched and a knife, cash, and cards were
found. Officer Edwards patted down defendant. Officer Edwards
did not find anything he interpreted as a weapon but did find
on defendant's left side front pocket what he believed
felt like a plastic bag and a large sum of pills not in a
bottle or container. Officer Edwards asked defendant what was
in his pocket and defendant responded, "tissues."
Officer Edwards stated it definitely was not tissues and
asked what defendant took for pills. Defendant responded that
he did not take pills. Officer Edwards asked why there were
pills in defendant's pocket.
Officer Edwards testified on direct and redirect examination
that he was sure defendant's pocket contained contraband,
Officer Edwards agreed on cross examination that he squeezed
on the pocket because he wanted more information about what
was in the pocket and that he manipulated what he felt in the
pocket to try to get more information about what may be in
the pocket. Officer Edwards's conduct is best visible on
the bodycam videos of Officers Zachary Quadland and Kevin
Gerrish. (Def.'s Ex. 1.) Officer Edwards did not suspect
what he felt in the pocket was a weapon and no weapon was
found on defendant.
officer told defendant to empty his pocket. Defendant removed
from his pocket a small plastic bag that contained nineteen
oxycontin pills. Defendant was placed in handcuffs.
Edwards had five months of experience as a law enforcement
officer at the time of defendant's stop. In addition to
his testimony about the manipulation of defendant's
pocket, Officer Edwards contradicted himself during his
testimony whether he saw pizza in defendant's hand and
the decision to remove the participants from the vehicle.
Officer Edwards responded twice that if the video showed his
words or actions, that is what he said or did. He also stated
occasionally that he did not understand defense counsel's
investigatory stop "must be based on specific and
articulable facts which, taken together with rational
inferences from those facts, reasonably warrant that
intrusion." State v. Simons, 2017 ME 180,
¶ 12, 169 A.3d 399 (quotation marks omitted). "At
the time of making an investigatory stop, a police officer
must have an articulable suspicion, objectively reasonable in
light of all the circumstances, that the object of the search
has committed or is about to commit a crime."
Id. (quotation marks omitted). The reasonable
articulable suspicion standard requires the
"officer's suspicion be more than mere speculation
or an unsubstantiated hunch." Id. (quotation
marks omitted). Based on the above facts, Officer Edwards had
reasonable articulable suspicion to support his stop of the
vehicle and his request that the occupants exit the vehicle.
officer may conduct a patdown search "to determine
whether the person is in fact carrying a weapon."
Terry v. Ohio,392 U.S. 1, 24 (1968). "[A]
protective search-permitted without a warrant and on the
basis of reasonable suspicion less than probable cause - must
be strictly 'limited to that which is necessary for the
discovery of weapons which might be used to harm the officer
or others nearby.'" Minnesota v. Dickerson,508 U.S. 366, 373 (1993) (quoting Terry, 392 U.S. at
26 (1968). Police may ...