United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky, Louisville Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
H. McKinley, Jr., Chief Judge
matter is before the Court on Defendant's Motion to
Suppress [DN 15] and Motion in Limine [DN 16]. Fully briefed,
these matters are ripe for decision. For the following
reasons, both of Defendant's Motions are DENIED.
December 17, 2015, Detective Ryan Whitford and Officer
Patrick Lawrence were patrolling the high crime neighborhood
of Portland in Louisville, Kentucky. While traveling down
29th Street, they observed an unattended van at
the corner of 29th Street and Alford Avenue with
its passenger door open. Across the street, they saw a tan
2002 Toyota Sequoia with the driver door ajar and an
individual standing on the sidewalk outside the door. As they
passed, the man next to the Toyota, later identified as
Defendant Vance, gave them a
“deer-in-the-headlights” look. Because vehicle
thefts are common in this area and because the two officers
believed he may have been breaking into vehicles, they
decided to investigate further. The officers returned to
where Vance was standing, and Lawrence attempted to engage
Vance in conversation. At this time, Vance turned and ran
down 29th Street into an alley. Lawrence pursued
him on foot, and Vance tripped over a black object in the
alleyway and fell.
secured Vance while Whitford further investigated the scene.
Whitford observed that on the ground several feet from Vance
lay a Chicago Bulls cap and a green Crown Royal bag with
yellow seams. Whitford found that the green bag contained a
Glock Model 21 .45 caliber pistol and a very large
“rock” of crystal methamphetamine, which
reportedly weighed 111.1 grams. However, no field test of
this substance was conducted. Vance repeatedly denied that
this bag belonged to him. He did, however, claim the Chicago
Vance's neck was a chain with keys attached, one of which
was a key that matched the 2002 Toyota Sequoia. Lawrence and
Whitford arrested Vance and went back to Vance's Toyota,
which was 50 to 60 feet away from the scene of arrest. There,
a holster could be seen from outside of the vehicle. The door
of the Toyota remained open after Vance was in custody, and
the officers searched the vehicle. From the search, they
discovered the holster that contained extra ammunition for a
.45 caliber Glock-the same type of weapon located in the
green bag- and drug paraphernalia.
owner of the van across the street confirmed that Vance was
not breaking into his vehicle, but his vehicle's door was
open because he was moving personal effects into his
apartment. Lawrence and Whitford then transported Vance to
the police station. The officers processed the evidence and
completed the necessary attendant paperwork. The firearm,
ammunition, and methamphetamine were entered into evidence.
The substance recovered from the scene was later tested by
the Kentucky State Police laboratory and the DEA laboratory
in Chicago. Both tests concluded that the substance in
question was indeed methamphetamine.
before the Court is Vance's Motion to Suppress Evidence
[DN 15], arguing police conducted an unlawful search and
seizure, and Vance's Motion in Limine [DN 16], contending
that gaps in the chain of custody of certain evidence render
it inadmissible. The Court will address each Motion in turn.
Motion to Suppress
Vance claims that any evidence obtained directly or
indirectly was the result of an illegal stop, arrest, and
subsequent search and seizure of his vehicle. Vance states
that the stop of his person was warrantless, not consensual,
and not made with probable cause to believe or a valid reason
to suspect that Vance had been, was, or was about to be
engaged in criminal activity. Therefore, he argues that all
fruits of this illegal stop, arrest, and search must be
Fourth Amendment, which applies to the states through
incorporation by the Fourteenth Amendment, protects
“the right of the people to be secure in their persons,
houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches
and seizures.” Ingram v. City of Columbus, 185
F.3d 579, 586 (6th Cir. 1999) (quoting U.S. Const. amend.
IV); see Mapp v. Ohio, 367 U.S. 643, 654-57 (1961).
This case requires the Court to determine whether, at that
time Vance was seized, the officers had reasonable suspicion
that he was engaging in criminal activity sufficient to
justify an investigatory stop.
person is seized when an officer “by means of physical
force or show of authority, has in some way restrained [his]
liberty, ” Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1, 19 n. 16
(1968), such that “in view of all of the circumstances
surrounding the incident, a reasonable person would have
believed that he was not free to leave, ” Michigan
v. Chesternut, 486 U.S. 567, 573 (1988). See United
States v. Johnson, 620 F.3d 685, 690 (6th Cir. 2010).
“A suspect is seized ‘within the meaning of the
Fourth Amendment where an officer applies physical force to
restrain [the] suspect or a show of authority . . . has in
some way restrained the liberty of [the] citizen.'”
United States v. Ray, 597 F. App'x 832, 837 (6th
Cir. 2015) (quoting United States v. Jeter, 721 F.3d
746, 751-52 (6th Cir. 2013); Terry, 392 U.S. at 19
n. 16). If physical force or submission to the assertion of
authority is absent, no seizure occurs. Id. (citing
California v. Hodari D., 499 U.S. 621, 626 (1991)).
A seizure requires “a laying on of hands or application
of physical force to restrain movement, even when it is
ultimately unsuccessful. . . . [The Fourth Amendment] does
not remotely apply, however, to the prospect of a policeman
yelling ‘Stop, in the name of the law!' at a
fleeing form that continues to flee. That is no
seizure.” Hodari, 499 U.S. at 626; United
States v. Logan, 526 F. App'x 498, 501 (6th Cir.
2013). It is, at most, an attempted one. Brendlin v.
California, 551 U.S. 249, 254 (2007).
case, although the patrol cars converging on Vance and
Officer Lawrence speaking to Vance was certainly a show of
authority on the part of the officers that could potentially
amount to a seizure, Vance was not seized from the outset of
the encounter because he did not submit to the show of
authority. Instead, Vance immediately began to run on foot
away from the stopped patrol car and the officers. See
Logan, 526 F. App'x at 501. “[A]n individual
must actually yield to the show of authority to be seized
within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment.”
Johnson, 620 F.3d at 690. As explained the Supreme
Court in Brendlin, “one sitting in a chair may
submit to authority by not getting up to run away.”
Logan, 526 F. App'x at 501. Here, Vance did not
remain near the car, and his decision to abruptly run ...