Motion to suppress. Henry Superior Court. Before Judge McGarity.
Daniel F. Farnsworth, for appellant.
James L. Wright III , District Attorney, Jordan K. Van Matre , Blair D. Mahaffey , Assistant District Attorneys, for appellee.
BRANCH, Judge. Barnes, P. J., and Boggs, J., concur.
Ricardo Breshard Bodiford appeals from an order of the Henry County Superior Court denying his motion to suppress cocaine discovered in his car during a traffic stop. Bodiford asserts that the trial court erred in denying his motion to suppress because police discovered the cocaine only after the arresting officer impermissibly prolonged the traffic stop for the purpose of conducting a drug investigation, and because the officer lacked a legal basis for expanding the scope of the traffic stop beyond its original purpose. We agree with Bodiford and therefore reverse the trial court's order.
At a hearing on a motion to suppress, the trial judge sits as the trier of fact. Gonzalez v. State, 299 Ga.App. 777, 778 (1) (683 S.E.2d 878) (2009). On appeal from the grant or denial of such a motion, therefore, this Court
must construe the evidence most favorably to uphold the findings and judgment of the trial court, and that court's findings as to disputed facts and credibility must be adopted unless clearly erroneous. However, we owe no deference to the trial court's conclusions of law and are instead free to apply anew the legal principles to the facts.
State v. Able, 321 Ga.App. 632-633 (742 S.E.2d 149) (2013) (punctuation and footnote omitted).
The relevant facts in this case are undisputed and the record shows that while patrolling I-75 on the evening of October 30, 2012, [328 Ga.App. 259] Officer Jason Hart of the Henry County Police Department performed a traffic stop of a car being driven by Bodiford after Hart detected the car traveling ten miles per hour over the posted speed limit. Hart initiated the traffic stop at 6:40 p.m., and a video recording of that stop was introduced into evidence at the hearing on the motion to suppress.
Hart testified that when he asked Bodiford for his driver's license, Bodiford appeared visibly nervous; his right hand was shaking, he was breathing heavily, and sweat was beginning to bead on his forehead. The officer therefore asked Bodiford to step out of his vehicle while Hart wrote him a courtesy warning. The video of the stop shows that Hart thereafter retrieved his citation book from his patrol car and then spent approximately two-and-one-half minutes writing Bodiford a warning ticket, conversing with Bodiford as he did so. The video shows that Hart explained the warning to Bodiford, and Bodiford appears to sign the citation. After he completed writing and explaining the warning, however, Hart did not give the ticket to Bodiford or return Bodiford's license. Rather, at that point, approximately six-and-one-half minutes after the traffic stop had begun, Hart questioned Bodiford about the status of his ...