IN THE INTEREST OF A. P., a child.
MCFADDEN, P. J., RICKMAN and MARKLE, JJ.
McFadden, Presiding Judge.
was adjudicated delinquent for violating OCGA §
16-11-132, which prohibits any person under the age of 18
from possessing or having under his control a handgun. A. P.
appeals the adjudication of delinquency. A. P. argues that
the juvenile court erred by denying his motion to suppress,
but we find that the arresting officer had reasonable
suspicion to detain him and probable cause to arrest him. He
argues that the state failed to prove that he possessed a
"handgun" as that term is defined in the Georgia
Code, but we find that the evidence was sufficient to permit
the juvenile court to find that A. P. possessed a handgun in
DeKalb County. So we affirm.
Motion to suppress.
appeal from a motion to suppress, the evidence is viewed in a
light most favorable to upholding the trial court's
judgment. The credibility of witnesses and the weight
accorded their testimony rest with the trier of fact. Thus,
the trial court's findings on disputed facts and
credibility must be accepted unless clearly erroneous."
Groves v. State, 306 Ga.App. 779, 779 (703 S.E.2d
371) (2010) (citation omitted). "[T]he reviewing court
may also consider facts that definitively can be ascertained
exclusively by reference to evidence that is uncontradicted
and presents no questions of credibility, such as facts
indisputably discernible from a videotape." State v.
Allen, 298 Ga. 1, 2 (1) (a) (779 S.E.2d 248) (2015)
(citation omitted). "Where the evidence is
uncontroverted and there is no issue as to witness
credibility, however, we review de novo the trial court's
application of the law to the undisputed facts."
Groves v. State, 306 Ga.App. at 779 (citation and
in this way, the evidence at the suppression hearing, which
consisted of the testimony of the arresting officer, footage
from body cameras, and an audio recording of a dispatch to
police, shows the following. Officer T. G. Jones with the
DeKalb County Police Department was one of several police
officers who responded to a dispatch about a crime in
progress at an apartment complex. The dispatcher, who was
communicating with the complainant all the while, informed
the officers that the complainant was reporting that a group
of 14- to 15-year-old juveniles were in the process of
stealing a vehicle outside of Building 13 of the Arbor
Crossing Apartments at 10 Arbor Crossing Drive. The
dispatcher stated that she had been advised by the
complainant that the juveniles had stolen a blue Dodge
Journey; that they then were stealing a black Ford sedan with
license plate "Delta Zulu Uniform 5301" and a
silver Taurus; and that they were getting into the silver
dispatcher stated that there were five males and one female.
The dispatcher continued to update the officers and stated
that the complainant was now advising her that the group
consisted of about 10 juveniles; that police had arrived at
the scene; and that the juveniles had run off, although in
what direction was not clear.
Jones was the first officer at the scene. He was familiar
with the apartment complex and immediately went to building
13. Officer Jones stopped A. P., who he believed to be 15 or
16 years old, and another male because they were walking away
from the area where the complainant said the cars were being
stolen. Officer Jones had another officer stand with the two
boys while he walked around the building looking for more
juveniles and the cars. He returned, then walked A. P. and
the other boy to building 9, where officers were standing
with other juveniles. Officer Jones had A. P. put his hands
on his head as they walked.
were walking toward building 9, Officer Jones saw a
"hard, heavy" object in A. P.'s front, right
pocket. He asked A. P. to identify the object, and A. P. said
it was a cell phone. Once they reached the other officers,
Officer Jones patted down A. P. for officer safety and felt
the chamber of a revolver. Officer Jones arrested A. P. and
confiscated a small-caliber revolver.
juvenile court orally denied A. P.'s motion to suppress,
ruling that "because of the reasonable suspicion [the
officer] had the right to at that time stop the child."
argues that the juvenile court erred by denying his motion to
suppress because Officer Jones lacked reasonable suspicion to
briefly seize him and lacked probable cause to arrest him. We
United States Supreme Court has established "three tiers
of police-citizen encounters: (1) communication between
police and citizens involving no coercion or detention and
therefore without the compass of the Fourth Amendment, (2)
brief seizures that must be supported by reasonable
suspicion, and (3) full-scale arrests that must be supported
by probable cause." State v. Allen, 330 Ga.App.
752, 755 (769 S.E.2d 165) (2015) (citations and punctuation
omitted). A. P. and the state agree that Officer Jones'
encounter with A. P. was initially a second-tier encounter
that required reasonable suspicion.
establish the required reasonable suspicion,
the totality of the circumstances must show that the officer
had specific and articulable facts which, taken together with
rational inferences from those facts, provided a
particularized and objective basis for suspecting the
particular person stopped of criminal activity. Although an
investigative stop cannot be based on an officer's mere
hunch that criminal activity is afoot, this process allows
officers to draw on their own experience and specialized
training to make ...