United States District Court, N.D. Georgia, Atlanta Division
OPINION AND ORDER.
WILLIAM S. DUFFEY, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter is before the Court on Defendant Jeff North's
(“North”) Objections  (“Obj.”) to
Magistrate Judge Janet F. King's Final Report and
Recommendation  (“R&R”) on North's
Motions to Suppress Evidence and Statements  
(“Motions to Suppress”). The Magistrate Judge
found that (i) North did not have an expectation of privacy
in the van that he was driving and in which a firearm was
found and (ii) that statements made by North after he was
arrested are not required to be suppressed. The Magistrate
Judge recommends that North's Motions to Suppress be
March 22, 2015, Johnny Dansby (“Dansby”) drove to
a gas station on Hollowell Parkway to show Defendant North a
van that he was selling. (Transcript of May 18, 2017,
Evidentiary Hearing  (“May 18th Tr.”) at
9-13; Def. Exh. 5). North said he was interesting in buying
the van but did not have sufficient cash for the purchase.
(May 18th Tr. at 13-15). After making several phone calls,
North told Dansby that North's uncle could help with the
funds required. (Id. at 14-15). About an hour later,
North said that he and Dansby should go to North's
uncle's to get the remainder of the purchase price.
(Id.). Dansby drove with North in the van, following
directions given by North, arriving ultimately at a building
that Dansby described as a “little bunkhouse thing,
” where rooms were rented to people. North's uncle
did not reside at the bunkhouse. (Id. at 14-15,
and Dansby stayed at the bunkhouse for two to three hours but
North was unable to get the funds needed for the car
purchase. (Id. at 16-19). North told Dansby it was
time to leave and, as they did, North went over to an old car
and “did something.” (Id. at 19). North
asked if he could test drive the van to North's
uncle's house. (Id. at 21-22). Believing that
North intended to purchase the vehicle, Dansby decided to let
North drive. (Id. at 20-22). North drove the van to
an apartment building with boarded up windows that appeared
mostly to be abandoned. (Id. at 21-22). North went
inside one of the apartments. (Id. at 22). He came
back out and told Dansby that a guy wanted him to come inside
for the money. (Id.). Dansby refused and demanded
that the keys to the van be returned to him. (Id. at
22, 26-27). North then demanded that Dansby turn over his
wallet, repeating the demand at least once more before
pulling a firearm and telling Dansby, “[n]ow get out
the van.” (Id. at 22, 27).
tried to explain that North needed a power of attorney for
the vehicle. (Id. at 22, 24-26). North responded
“[I] don't give a f[ ] about you, ” and then
shot Dansby. (Id. at 22-23, 28). Dansby got out of
the van and circled around in front of it to avoid getting
shot again. North fired another shot at Dansby.
(Id.). Dansby, ducking behind the vehicle, ran to
the apartment complex exit. (Id. at 23, 29-30).
North followed Dansby in the van and then North turned right
onto Joseph E. Boone Boulevard (“Boone”), at the
apartment complex exit. (Id. at 29-30).
Police Officer Willie Williams was patrolling in his marked
police car in the area and saw a black van westbound on Boone
and, at the same time, saw Dansby in a bloody white t-shirt,
waving him down. (Transcript of January 12, 2017, Evidentiary
Hearing  (“January 12th Tr.”) at 5-7, 15; May
18th Tr. at 23, 30). Dansby pointed to his van driving
off-the same van Officer Williams had just seen-and Dansby
told Officer Williams that the man who shot him was driving
the van that he had taken from Dansby. (January 12th Tr. at
7, 16-17). The van was about 1, 000 feet away, and the van
was the only vehicle on the road. (Id. at 7-8).
Williams called Grady EMS to assist Dansby and then
immediately followed the van. (Id. at 8, 17-18; May
18th Tr. at 31). Officer Williams activated his blue lights
and siren. (Id.) North stopped the van. (January
12th Tr. at 8, 18). Officer Williams got out of his car and,
aware of the prior shooting, had his gun in his hand in a low
ready position. (Id. at 8-9, 19, 21). Officer
Williams told North to lie on the ground, to which North
responded: “What the f[ ] did you pull me over for? I
did not do anything.” (Id. at 9, 19; May 18th
Tr. at 6). Officer Williams repeated his instruction and this
time North complied, and was restrained. (January 12th Tr. 9,
20; May 18th Tr. at 6).
Williams told North that he was being detained as a suspect
in a crime. (January 12th Tr. at 21). North did not make any
further statements and did not claim that the van belonged to
him. (Id. at 10, 21-22). Officer Williams took North
to where he had left Dansby, but, by that time, Dansby had
been transported to the hospital. (Id. at 10).
Officer Williams and North returned to where the van had been
pulled over. Officer Williams searched the van for evidence
of the shooting, while North remained in the car.
(Id. at 11-12). Officer Williams found in the van a
loaded .22 caliber firearm and two spent shell casings.
(Id.). Officer Williams also found Dansby's
wallet with his identification in it. (Id. at 12-13,
moved to suppress the stop, and search, of the van, the
seizure of the gun and shell casings, and the statement he
made to Officer Williams when he was ordered to get out of
the vehicle and get on the ground. North contends that he had
a reasonable expectation of privacy in the van when it was
stopped, detained, and the interior of it searched. North
also contends Officer Williams lacked reasonable suspicion to
stop the van, that the warrantless search of it was unlawful,
and that any statements he made are inadmissible fruits of an
illegal stop and detention, or were involuntary because he
was not read his Miranda rights. (R&R at 1-2).
conducting an evidentiary hearing on North's Motions to
Suppress on January 12, 2017, and May 18, 2017, the
Magistrate Judge found that North lacked a reasonable
expectation of privacy in the van that he had stolen from
Dansby. Even if North had grounds to challenge the stop of
the van or his detention and search of the van, the
Magistrate Judge found that Officer Williams had reasonable
suspicion to conduct the stop, to detain North, and to
conduct a warrantless search of the van for the gun involved
in the shooting, because Dansby told Officer Williams that he
was shot by North in the van and that the van was stolen from
him. Finally, the Magistrate Judge found that the statement
that North made when he was stopped was not made during a
custodial interrogation, but a statement made spontaneously
and offered voluntarily.
asserts four objections to the R&R. First, North objects
to the Magistrate Judge's conclusion that he did not have
a reasonable expectation of privacy in the van he was
driving. (Obj. at 1). Second, North objects to the Magistrate
Judge's conclusion that Officer Williams had reasonable
suspicion to stop the van. (Obj. at 2). Third, North objects
to the Magistrate Judge's conclusion that Officer
Williams' decision to conduct a search of the van was
supported by evidence because the evidence does not support
there was a sufficient basis for a warrantless search.