United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Northern Division, Covington
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
L. Bunning, United States District Judge
matter is before the Court on Defendant's Motion to
Suppress all evidence seized from the automobile he was
driving on October 3, 2018. (Doc. # 29). In his Motion, Mr.
Turner argues that law enforcement officers lacked probable
cause to arrest him and that all evidence seized thereafter
should be suppressed.
April 11, 2019, the Court held an evidentiary hearing on the
Motion. (Doc. # 41). Defendant Turner was present at the
hearing and represented by attorney Michael Goodwin. The
United States was represented by Assistant United States
Attorney Anthony Bracke. The hearing was recorded by the
Official Court Reporter Lisa Wiesman. Prior to the hearing,
the Defendant filed a Memorandum in Support of his Motion to
Suppress (Doc. # 29-1) and the United States filed a Response
in Opposition (Doc. # 36). At the Court's direction, the
parties filed supplemental briefing after the conclusion of
the evidentiary hearing. (Docs. # 44 and 45). The Motion is
now ripe for the Court's review. For the reasons set
forth herein, Defendant's Motion to Suppress (Doc. # 29)
FINDINGS OF FACT
witnesses testified during the evidentiary hearing on behalf
of the United States: Covington Police Officer Anthony
Jansen, Fort Thomas Police Officer Mike Rowland, and Campbell
County Police Officer Matt Meyer. (Doc. # 42). The Defendant
called no witnesses. Weighing the credibility of the
witnesses, the Court makes the following factual findings:
Around September 10, 2018, a confidential informant
approached Covington Police Officer Anthony Jansen to report
that an individual by the name of Laura West was selling
methamphetamine to buyers in Northern Kentucky. (Doc. # 43 at
7:3-10). Officer Jansen had received tips from this
confidential informant in the past and the informant had an
established history of reliability with law enforcement
agencies in the area. Id. at 7:11-22. An initial
investigation of Ms. West revealed that she had active arrest
warrants for probation violations. Id. at 13:14-25.
October 2, 2018, the confidential informant told Officer
Jansen that he/she could arrange to purchase methamphetamine
from West in Northern Kentucky. Id. at 8:2-5. With
Officer Jansen's permission, the confidential informant
conducted a series of police-monitored phone calls with West
to arrange the methamphetamine sale. Id. at 8:7-14.
During the calls, West agreed to deliver to the informant one
pound of methamphetamine for either $5, 500 or $5, 600.
Id. at 8:18-21. The transaction was to take place on
October 3, 2018 in Verona, Kentucky. Id. at 9:15-20.
around 8:00 p.m. on October 3rd, the confidential informant
placed a controlled phone call to West, during which they
agreed to meet in the parking lot of the Dollar General on
Verona-Mudlick Road. Id. at 11:7-9. West indicated
to the informant that she was en route and would arrive at
the Dollar General parking lot soon. Id. at 10:2-4.
During the phone calls with the confidential informant, West
frequently used the first-person pronoun “we” and
repeatedly implied that a male individual would be
accompanying her to the drug deal. Id. at 10:6-13,
20:5-18. At one point, West said something to the effect of
“my dude doesn't want there to be any funny
business.” Id. at 10:18-22. Officer Jansen
stated that in his experience, he interpreted this and other
similar statements to mean that West was bringing her source
of supply to the transaction. Id. at 26:18-27:8.
around 8:45 p.m., the confidential informant had another
controlled call with West, who stated that she was thirteen
minutes away. Id. at 11:15-21. To prepare for
West's arrival, police set up multiple surveillance units
within viewing distance of the Dollar General parking lot.
Id. at 11:24-12:2, 30:2-4. The officers also placed
the confidential informant's vehicle in the parking lot
to give the appearance that the informant was in fact at the
Shortly before 9:00 p.m., the confidential informant received
a phone call from West, who advised that she had arrived at
the Dollar General parking lot. Id. at 12:6-10. In
another call shortly thereafter, West told the informant that
she was in a dark gray or black Nissan sedan that would be
backing into a parking spot on the Dollar General lot.
Id. at 12:20-13:2, 65:1-2. West also instructed the
informant to enter her vehicle in order to retrieve the
drugs. Id. at 12:20-24. Both of these calls were
monitored by Officer Jansen, who relayed the relevant
information to the waiting surveillance units. Id.
at 13:9-13, 30:5-9.
after receiving the radio transmission from Officer Jansen,
Officer Michael Rowland, who was located approximately a half
mile away from the Dollar General parking lot, observed a
dark-colored sedan exit I-75, pull into the parking lot, and
back into a space. Id. at 30:12-15. Rowland noticed
that no one exited the vehicle after it was parked.
Id. at 65:11-13. At this time, there were fewer than
ten vehicles parked in the lot, and only one of them matched
the physical description given by Ms. West and the
confidential informant. Id. at 16:25-17:2, 66:6-9.
In addition, the dark-colored sedan was the only car in the
lot that was backed into a parking space. Id. at
Shortly after Rowland saw the dark-colored sedan enter the
parking lot, an agent radioed that West's vehicle had
arrived. Id. at 30:16-17. It was at this point that
the officers approached the vehicle with their lights
flashing. Id. at 30:17-18, 65:15-17. Upon arriving,
the police officers observed three occupants of the vehicle,
a male, who was the driver, and two female passengers-one in
the front passenger seat and another in the right rear
passenger seat. Id. at 24:8-10, 26:9-13, 30:23-25,
43:4-5, 65:18-20. The officers ordered all three occupants
out of the vehicle. Id. at 31:4, 42:25-43:3. The
driver, later confirmed to be Quinn Turner, and the front
seat passenger, later identified as Shara Brown, were both
immediately handcuffed and detained. Id. at
65:18-19, 72:2-17. Sergeant Weber then searched ...