United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky, Bowling Green Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
N. Stivers, Chief United States District Judge.
matter is before the Court on Plaintiff's Objection (DN
49) and Defendant's Objection (DN 50) to the Magistrate
Judge's Findings of Fact, Conclusions of Law, and
Recommendation (DN 45), and Plaintiff's Motion for Leave
to Seal Exhibit (DN 36). For the following reasons, the Court
ADOPTS IN PART and REJECTS IN PART the Magistrate Judge's
Report and Recommendation (“R&R”), SUSTAINS
Plaintiff's Objection, OVERRULES Defendant's
Objection, and GRANTS the motion to seal.
SUMMARY OF RELEVANT FACTS
matter arises from the arrest, search, and interrogation of
Defendant Damone Domonique Bell (“Bell”). On July
30, 2018, Logan Cesler (“Cesler”) purchased
one-half gram of heroin for use by himself and Kaitlin
McKinney (“McKinney”). (R&R 2, DN 45).
McKinney fatally overdosed after using this heroin. (R&R
2). After investigators reviewed security footage,
Cesler's testimony, and text message conversations, they
identified Bell as a suspect in the sale of the heroin to
Cesler. (R&R 2).
the exact timing of the photo identification is uncertain,
July 31, 2018, Cesler identified Bell in a photograph lineup
of six people as the one who sold him heroin on the previous
evening. (R&R 2). Cesler then texted the suspect on
direction by the police to set up another drug purchase.
(R&R 2). When Bell arrived near the identified meeting
point, he was arrested and taken into custody. (R&R 2).
Upon approaching Bell's vehicle, officers reported
smelling marijuana and a drug-sniffing canine officer
signaled the presence of narcotics in the automobile.
(R&R 2). As such, the police searched Bell's vehicle
and discovered marijuana and heroin. (R&R 2).
the station, Bell was questioned by Bureau of Alcohol,
Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Special Agent David S. Hayes
and Bowling Green Police Department Officer Clifton Phelps.
(R&R 3). Bell was read his Miranda rights, and
he signed a waiver acknowledging those rights and his
willingness to continue with questioning. (R&R 3).
Fourteen minutes and 45 seconds into this interview, Bell
said: “I don't want to be like a jerk or anything
but can I . . . I really . . . can I just not say anything .
. . else? Like I really don't know what to say. It's
nothing, like I said, it is what it is. There's nothing
really. There's no fixing it.” (Pl.'s
Suppression Hr'g Ex. B, at 14:45-15:00). The officers
continued questioning him. Eighteen minutes and fourteen
seconds into the interview, Bell stated, “You said I
have the option to remain silent, right? I'm trying to
remain silent. I'm not trying to be a jerk or anything,
I'm just trying to remain silent.” (Pl.'s
Suppression Hr'g Ex. B, at 18:14-18:21). Shortly after
this exchange, the officers ceased their questioning of Bell
and ended the interrogation. (Pl.'s Suppression Hr'g
Ex. B, at 20:30).
has moved to suppress: (1) physical evidence seized during
the search of his automobile; (2) statements made while in
police custody; and (3) photographic and in-court
identification. (Def.'s Mot. Suppress, DN 33; Def.'s
Mot. Suppress, DN 34). The United States responded.
(Pl.'s Resp. Def.'s Mot. Suppress, DN 35; Pl.'s
Resp. Def.'s Mot. Suppress, DN 37). The Magistrate Judge
conducted an evidentiary hearing on the motions and issued
his Findings of Fact, Conclusions of Law, and Recommendation.
Specifically, the Magistrate Judge recommended that the
motion to suppress physical evidence be denied, the motion to
suppress statements made after the 14:45-minute mark be
granted, and the motion to suppress photo identification be
denied. (R&R 11).
Motions to Suppress
magistrate judge's report and recommendation on
dispositive motions, such as a motion for the suppression of
evidence, is subject to de novo review by the district court.
United States v. Curtis, 237 F.3d 598, 603 (6th Cir.
Bell's Stop, Arrest, and the Search of his
objects to the Magistrate Judge's finding that the police
had reasonable suspicion to stop him, arrest him, and search
his automobile. (Def.'s Obj. R&R 7, DN 50).
Specifically, Bell takes issue with the Magistrate
Judge's characterization of Bell as being apprehended at
the “agreed upon location.” (Def.'s Obj.
R&R 7; R&R 4). The defense argues that because Bell
drove past the meeting point, his proximity to the
meeting point should not support a finding of reasonable
suspicion or probable cause. (Def.'s Obj. R&R 8-9).
investigatory stop of a vehicle is permissible when supported
by reasonable suspicion that a crime has or is being
committed. Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1, 22 (1968). The
detaining officers must have a reasonable suspicion based on
a “particularized and objective basis” as
reviewed under the “totality of the
circumstances.” United States v. Arvizu, 534
U.S. 266, 273 (2002). An automobile can be searched without a
warrant if the officer has probable cause to believe that a
crime has been or is in the process of being committed.
Carroll v. United States, 267 U.S. 132, 158 (1925).
United States here has more than met its burden. As
thoroughly analyzed by the Magistrate Judge, Cesler described
his drug purchase transaction with the suspect and provided a
physical description of Bell and his automobile. This story
was further verified by nearby security cameras. Moreover,
Cesler's phone revealed drug-related text message
conversations with a No. linked to Bell. This No. was then
used to lure the suspect to a meeting point for another drug
transaction. It was near this meeting point that Bell was
ultimately stopped and then arrested. After the arrest,
officers reported smelling marijuana and a canine officer
alerted for drugs in the vehicle.
the totality of the circumstances it is clear to this Court,
as it was to the Magistrate Judge, that the officers acted
under particularized, reasonable suspicion when stopping
Bell's vehicle. The officers then had sufficient probable
cause based on the above-stated facts to arrest Bell and
search his vehicle. Based on this overwhelming evidence, it
matters little whether Bell was arrested at the
agreed upon location or near the agreed upon
location as described by Bell. Moreover, Bell's
characterization of the facts is not wholly accurate. Based
on text messages conversations between Cesler and the
suspect, it appears the meeting location was in ...