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United States v. Brinson

United States District Court, S.D. Georgia, Augusta Division

December 4, 2019

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
v.
ANTWON DOMINIQUE BRINSON

          MAGISTRATE JUDGE'S REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          BRIAN K. EFPS UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         Defendant seeks suppression of drug and firearm evidence obtained during a traffic stop on April 27, 2019. After careful consideration of the legal briefs and evidence presented at the hearing on November 1, 2019, the Court REPORTS and RECOMMENDS Defendant's motion to suppress, (doc. no. 17), be GRANTED because the officer prolonged the stop to investigate unrelated crimes without reasonable suspicion.

         I. FACTS

         On August 7, 2019, the grand jury in the Southern District of Georgia charged Defendant with possessing cocaine, marijuana, and a firearm as a felon. (Doc. no. 1.) On April 27, 2019, at 10:54 p.m., Deputy Johnny Snider from the Richmond County Sheriff's Office pulled over Defendant because of a defective brake light. (Court's recording system, For the Record (“FTR”), 10:22:20-10:22:30.) At the suppression hearing, Deputy Snyder explained the steps essential to completing such a routine traffic stop as follows:

We would pull the vehicle over, approach the vehicle, make contact with the driver, [and] get the driver's license. If the driver can provide us his driver's license, we would go back to our vehicle [and] do a driver's license and warrants check. At that time we would approach back to the vehicle and explain we are going to issue a verbal warning, written warning, or a citation.

(FTR 10:39:57-10:40:25.) Deputy Snyder added he must also check the vehicle's tag number. (FTR 10:39:57-10:40:25.) The driver's license and warrant checks occur simultaneously because a single computer search produces results from Georgia Crime Information Center, National Crime Information Center, and Richmond County. (FTR 10:39:57-10:40:25.)

         When Deputy Snyder first pulled over Defendant, he exited the patrol car, approached Defendant's vehicle, explained the reason for the stop, obtained Defendant's driver's license, returned to his patrol car, and conducted the driver's license and warrant checks. (FTR 10:07:43-10:07:58.) Defendant had no outstanding warrants but did have a prior drug arrest in Richmond County for which no disposition information was available. (FTR 10:23:17-10:24:24.) Because of Defendant's prior drug arrest, Deputy Snyder testified he suspended completion of the steps essential to issuing Defendant a traffic citation for the defective brake light so that he could investigate the possibility of Defendant possessing drugs. (FTR 10:42:38-10:43:06.) Setting aside the tag number search and completion of the citation, Deputy Snyder exited his patrol car, turned on his body camera, and returned to Defendant's vehicle. (FTR 10:07:58-10:08:03, 10:42:12-10:42:52.)

         The body camera footage begins with the following exchange:

Deputy Snyder: “What does you got in the car man cause you acting, you acting all, all nervous?”
Defendant: Defendant shakes head and mumbles/inaudible
Deputy Snyder: “What do you got? You got a little bit of something?”
Defendant: Defendant shaking his head. “No, sir.”
Deputy Snyder: “Ok, where you stay at?”
Defendant: “I stay off 56, I stay right there ...

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