BARNES, P. J., MCMILLIAN and REESE, JJ.
Huff appeals from the trial court's denial of his motion
to suppress evidence of a handgun that was found in a
backpack after he was arrested for battery (family violence)
and criminal trespass. For the reasons set forth, infra, we
reverse the trial court's ruling.
in favor of the trial court's ruling on the motion to
suppress,  the record shows that on January 10, 2017,
at approximately 4:00 a.m., David Kelley, an Athens-Clarke
County patrol officer, responded to a third-party 911 call
that L. M. had been beaten up by her boyfriend. Kelley
arrived at the apartment in question, where Huff was lying on
the couch. When Kelley knocked on the door, Huff got up and,
while wearing a backpack, went into a bedroom. Huff returned
without the backpack and answered the door. Huff told Kelley
that no one had been arguing or fighting and allowed Kelley
in to see L. M. and a baby, both of whom appeared to be
started walking back to the patrol car to leave, but the
third-party caller arrived on the scene. Kelley took a
picture of a text message on the caller's phone that the
caller reportedly had received from L. M.'s phone number.
The photo was introduced at the hearing and showed three text
messages received at 3:15 a.m.: "[Caller, ] help me
[J]ay just beat me up real bad with [the baby] in my arm
please when u get this come here[.]" "I can[']t
talk[.]" "Come get us please[.]"
went back to the apartment to wake up L. M. As he approached
the door, he heard yelling coming from inside the apartment.
L. M. answered the door and tried to hide the right side of
her face from Kelley's view. However, Kelley observed a
large knot near L. M.'s right eye and forehead and blood
around her lips. L. M. would not tell Kelley what had
happened, only that she wanted to leave and that she had sent
the texts so that the caller would pick her up. Kelley
observed a "busted" cell phone on the floor, and L.
M. indicated the damage had happened that night. L. M.
acknowledged it was her phone and that she had texted the
caller with it.
Kelley asked Huff how L. M. had been injured, Huff responded
that Kelley should ask her. Huff asked if he could get his
backpack out of the bedroom. Kelley retrieved Huff's
backpack from the bedroom, and Huff put it on his back.
Kelley met with another officer on the scene, and they
decided to arrest Huff for battery (domestic violence). The
officers removed the backpack from Huff's back "for
officer safety[ ]" and placed him in handcuffs before
escorting him to the patrol car, where Kelley searched him.
Another officer searched Huff's backpack "[f]or
officer safety and drug-related fruits of the crime[ ]"
and discovered a handgun.
was wearing a body camera during the encounter. At the
suppression hearing, Huff introduced into evidence a copy of
the video recording beginning with Huff's arrest. In the
video, Huff can be seen wearing a backpack and sitting on a
chair inside the apartment. Officers stood him up and put his
hands behind his back to handcuff him, slid the backpack off
his back, and told him he was being arrested for domestic
officer then picked up the backpack from the floor, asking if
it belonged to Huff and telling him that he would not be able
to return to the apartment. Huff asked L. M. to give the
backpack to his sister, which L. M. agreed to do. Instead,
the officers took Huff and his backpack outside to the patrol
car, telling Huff that they were bringing the backpack
because "it was on his person when he was
arrested." The walk to the patrol car took over one
minute as Huff and the officers walked down several steps
from the apartment door, crossed through a courtyard, walked
through apartment buildings opposite the apartment in
question, and walked down a sidewalk before searching Huff.
An officer then placed the backpack on the trunk of the car
and searched the bag.
trial court denied Huff's motion to suppress the handgun
found in the backpack, finding that "Officer Kelley was
justified to search the backpack for a weapon while [Huff]
was still close enough to potentially grab the
backpack." Thus, the court ruled that the
search-incident-to-arrest exception to the warrant
requirement applied. We granted discretionary review.
clearly erroneous, the trial court's ruling on disputed
facts and credibility at a suppression hearing must be
accepted on appeal. However, where controlling facts are not
in dispute, such as those facts discernible from a videotape,
[the appellate court's] review is de
novo." With these guiding principles in mind, we
turn now to Huff's specific claim of error.
argues that the trial court erred in denying his motion to
suppress because Kelley illegally seized his backpack by
removing it from his person and possession before he searched
Huff or placed him in handcuffs. Huff contends that the State
showed no reasonable necessity to seize the property as Huff
specifically requested the backpack be left with L. M., who
explicitly stated that she would take charge of the property
and deliver it to Huff's sister.
the search-incident-to-arrest warrant exception did not
apply, Huff contends, because the search of the backpack
occurred several minutes after the officers gained exclusive
control over it and moved it to a separate location.
trial court did not address whether the State was authorized
to seize the backpack. The State presented no evidence of any
connection between the backpack and Huff's arrest and no
showing that seizure of the backpack was reasonably
necessary. Moreover, the post facto justification by
Kelley that he was searching the backpack for
"drug-related fruits of the crime[ ]" is
unsupported by the record. Huff was placed under arrest ...