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United States v. Manson

United States District Court, N.D. Georgia, Atlanta Division

February 7, 2019




         Pending before this Court are Defendant Roderick Manson's Motion to Suppress Evidence and Statements (Doc. 43), Particularized Motion to Suppress Evidence and Statements (Doc. 54), and Post-Hearing Brief Motion to Suppress Evidence and Statements (Doc. 63). For the reasons outlined below, this Court RECOMMENDS that Defendant's Motions to Suppress be DENIED with respect to his arguments for suppression of evidence (Docs. 43, 54, 63), and DEEMED MOOT with respect to Defendant's arguments for suppression of his statements (Docs. 43, 54, 63).


         On July 25, 2017, a grand jury in the Northern District of Georgia returned an Indictment charging Defendant Roderick Manson (“Defendant”) with (1) conspiring to knowingly and intentionally possess with intent to distribute methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA), marijuana, and cocaine in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 841(b)(1)(c), 846; (2) aiding and abetting to knowingly and intentionally possess with intent to distribute MDMA, marijuana, and cocaine in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 2, 841(a), (b)(1)(c); (3) aiding and abetting possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 2, 924(c)(1)(A)(I); and (4) knowingly possessing a firearm after having been convicted as a felon in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1). (Doc. 1). In Defendant's Motions to Suppress, he argues physical evidence seized from a parked car he was sitting in should be suppressed because the evidence was discovered while law enforcement officers unlawfully detained him without having reasonable suspicion that he had committed a crime. (Doc. 63). Defendant also contends that evidence seized from the car he was sitting in, after law enforcement officers obtained a warrant, should also be suppressed because the information in the affidavit offered in support of the warrant did not supply probable cause for the search. (Doc. 54).

         Additionally, Defendant initially argued that statements he made when law enforcement officers questioned him about the contents of the car without the benefit of counsel, following his placement in handcuffs and detention on the sidewalk, were inadmissible because they were the product of coercion. (Docs. 43, 54, 63). At the suppression hearing, however, the Government stated that it did not intend to use Defendant's post-arrest statements in the Government's case in chief, but reserved the right to present his statements for rebuttal or impeachment purposes. Because the suppression issue will only become relevant if the Government seeks to use Defendant's statements for impeachment or rebuttal purposes at trial, Defendant's Motions should be DEEMED MOOT with respect to his arguments for the suppression of his statements at this juncture. Should the issue arise, suppression can be taken up at that time.


         In April 2017, Fugitive Investigator Joshua Mauney of the Fayette County Sheriff's Office was trying to locate Melvin Gibson, who was wanted by Douglas County for violating his probation conditions. (Tr. 5). On April 13, 2017, Officer Mauney observed Gibson exiting an apartment in the Sierra Ridge Apartment complex on Delmar Lane and watched Gibson and his girlfriend drive away. (Tr. 6-7). Just prior to that, two other men had exited the apartment at about 6:30 a.m., entered a small white car, and drove away. (Tr. 6-7).

         On April 14, 2017, at approximately 6:30 a.m., Officer Mauney and a team of United States Marshal's Service deputies wearing vests clearly marking them as law enforcement, returned to the apartment to arrest Gibson. (Tr. 8). Officer Mauney instructed Officer Timothy Dolan, employed by the United States Marshal Service, to command the officers stationed on the rear of the residence because he had observed what he believed to be narcotics activity there the day before. (Tr. 28-31). Officer Mauney told officers who would be covering the rear area to be aware of drug activity going on in the area and to check the cars. (Tr. 9). Additionally, Officer Dolan considered rear containment of the residence to be important because it is the first place that a fugitive will run when officers knock on the front door. (Tr. 31). Approximately five or six officers covered the rear area of the apartment. (Tr. 15).

         As Officer Dolan pulled up to the rear of the apartment, he observed a man wearing a red shirt standing by the open driver's side window of a white vehicle parked in the parking lot at the rear of the residence. (Tr. 33-34, 49, 55). Officer Dolan states this fact was important because the team had information that Gibson had been in a white vehicle. (Tr. 33). Officer Dolan testified that when the officers exited their vehicles and identified themselves as police, the man began abruptly moving away from the officers and towards Gibson's apartment. (Tr. 33, 35). Officer Dolan testified that he was concerned when the man began walking away because normal citizens will not walk away when officers yell “police” and request that an individual stop. (Tr. 35). At that point, several of the officers yelled at the man to get on the ground, and he complied. (Tr. 35).

         Officer Dolan then focused his attention on the white vehicle. (Tr. 35). Defendant Manson was in the driver's seat of the white vehicle. (Tr. 34). Two other men were in the car-one in the front passenger seat and one in the rear passenger seat. (Tr. 38). Officer Dolan testified that at the time it was still dark outside and that he needed to identify the person in the white vehicle to make sure the vehicle and its occupants were safe. (Tr. 36). When Officer Dolan began approaching the car and made eye contact with Defendant, Defendant started to raise his window. (Tr. 36, 55). Although Officer Dolan told Defendant, “Please don't roll up your window” numerous times, Defendant continued to raise the window. (Tr. 37).

         Officer Dolan went to the driver's side window, to the right of the driver's side mirror, pointed his long rifle into the vehicle (which had a flashlight affixed to it), and instructed Defendant to roll down the window and to let him see Defendant's hands. (Tr. 37, 42, 49). Defendant did not comply and the window remained up. (Tr. 49). Officer Dolan states that at the time, he was looking inside the vehicle with the flashlight that was affixed to and was part of his weapon. (Tr. 37, 57-58). Officer Dolan admits that at this point, his weapon was pointing at Defendant. (Tr. 57). Officer Dolan testified that while his flashlight was aimed at the interior of the car, he was able to see a baseball-size amount of white powder substance Officer Dolan believed to be cocaine on Defendant's lap. (Tr. 38-39, 49).

         After Officer Dolan saw what he believed to be cocaine, he instructed the occupants of the car to roll down the windows and to let him see their hands. (Tr. 40). Although Defendant initially held his hands up for a split second, he then moved his right hand down to the right side of his right leg in between the driver's seat and the center console. (Tr. 40, 66). As a result, Officer Dolan believed that Defendant was reaching for a firearm. (Tr. 41). Officer Dolan then concentrated his weapon on Defendant and told him not to do it and to slowly raise his hands. (Tr. 41). In order to gain a better vantage point of Defendant's hand, to avoid hitting anyone behind Defendant, and to be able to point his rifle through the windshield, Officer Dolan moved to the left side of the driver's side mirror. (Tr. 42). Defendant raised his hands, and Officer Dolan instructed him to slowly open up the door or the window. (Tr. 42). Defendant placed his right hand down into the same spot between the driver's seat and the center console. (Tr. 42). Officer Dolan warned Defendant not to do it and that he would shoot Defendant in the face if Defendant did it. (Tr. 43). Officer Dolan instructed Defendant to raise his hand very slowly so that Officer Dolan could see what was in his hands. (Tr. 43). Defendant finally raised his hand with no firearm in it. (Tr. 43). The other occupants had already been removed from the vehicle. (Tr. 43).

         After all of the occupants had exited the vehicle, a bag of cocaine and a black Glock handgun could be seen on the floorboard of the driver's seat. (Tr. 43). Another gun was found in between the front driver's seat and the center console where Defendant had been reaching, a third gun was found underneath the passenger seat, and a digital scale normally used in the drug trade to measure small amounts of drugs was discovered in the car. (Tr. 23, 46-47, 51).

         II. L ...

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