United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky, Louisville
Charles R. Simpson III, Senior Judge.
case is before the court on the motion of Defendant, Junis
Peguero, to suppress fruits of an allegedly unconstitutional
search. DN 36. An evidentiary hearing was held on July 1,
2019 and both parties have submitted post-hearing briefing on
the matter. Therefore, this matter is ripe for review. The
Court will deny the motion in all respects.
Factual Background and Procedural History
January 30, 2015, detectives Chris Lott (“Lott”)
and Jason DeWitt (“DeWitt”) radioed detectives
Daryl Neese (“Neese”) and Matthew Chaudoin
(“Chaudoin”) of the Louisville Metro Police
Department (“LMPD”). DN 42 at 6; DN 42 at 31.
Lott and DeWitt were conducting surveillance of the
McDonald's restaurant located at 3340 Bardstown Road.
Id. This McDonald's is located in an area
“replete with drugs and some violent crime.”
Id. at 7. Lott and DeWitt observed two vehicles pull
into the McDonald's parking lot and park next to each
other; one of the vehicles was a black Nissan Murano.
Id. Lott and DeWitt saw a man exit the other vehicle
and enter the Murano. Id. The man stayed in the
Murano for a short time then returned to the other vehicle.
Id. Lott and DeWitt told Neese and Chaudoin they
believed this was a drug transaction. Id. at 7, 31.
and Chaudoin proceeded to follow the Murano from the
McDonald's parking lot in their unmarked vehicle.
Id. at 7-8. The Murano pulled onto the Watterson
Expressway and then proceeded to Dixie Highway, exiting at
Crums Lane. In total, the detectives followed the Murano
between seven and eight miles. Id.
Neese and Chaudoin followed the Murano, they observed the
following: (1) the driver's behavior was “fast,
erratic, and dangerous” (Id. at 8, 35) and (2)
the Murano had “extremely dark” window tinting
(Id. at 8). Chaudoin estimated the vehicle was going
between 15-20 miles per hour over the speed limit, and he saw
the driver weave in and out of traffic without using turn
signals. Id. at 8, 30, 41. Further, Chaudoin
testified that the vehicle's window tint was so dark he
could not see any features of two individuals in the vehicle.
Id. at 8-9. Based on his experience and training,
Chaudoin testified that the tint on the vehicle was
“well in excess of what's allowed by law.”
Id. at 43.
the Murano exited onto Crums Lane, the driver pulled into the
parking lot of an apartment complex. Id. at 9. When
the car approached the building, Neese and Chaudoin turned on
their police lights and initiated a traffic stop.
Id. Chaudoin testified that the detectives pulled
the car over because “the transaction [they] had
observed as well as the violation of the window tint and the
excessive speed and reckless driving on the
as the detectives turned on the police lights, both the
driver and passenger side front doors of the Murano opened;
the driver stepped out of the car. Id. Chaudoin
testified that this behavior was “very, very
unusual.” Id. at 55. The driver was the
Defendant, Junis Peguero (“Peguero”), and the
passenger was Enrique Echevarria (“Echevarria”).
Around this time, Chaudoin activated his digital pocket audio
recorder. Id. at 11.
approached Echevarria on the passenger side of the Murano and
asked for his identification. Id. at 13. Chaudoin
testified that Echevarria's movements were agitated;
Echevarria continued to move around, tried repeatedly to
reach back towards the car, and “tensed up”.
Id. at 14, 15, 47. Chaudoin testified that he felt
this behavior was a “distraction technique.”
Id. at 16. Based on Echevarria's behavior,
Chaudoin handcuffed Echevarria and moved him behind the
Murano. Id. at 47. Once he was in handcuffs,
Chaudoin asked Echevarria for permission to search his person
and he consented. Id. at 19. Chaudoin found one gram
of powder cocaine in Echevarria's pocket. Id.;
See DN 45-1.
approximately three minutes and fifty seconds after Chaudoin
began recording, after Chaudoin placed Echevarria in
handcuffs, Neese asked Peguero for consent to search his
vehicle. Id. at 45, 51. Peguero responded “I
don't consent to any searches.” Id. at 54.
At approximately the same time, Peguero and Echevarria began
communicating with each other in Spanish; Chaudoin ordered
them both to be quiet. Id. at 14. Chaudoin testified
that he did not understand Spanish and did not know what
Peguero and Echevarria were discussing. Id. at
14-15. Peguero, like Echevarria, continued to try and walk
back towards the car and moved in an “agitated”
fashion. Id. at 14.
point after Peguero denied consent to search the vehicle,
Neese searched Peguero and found a straw with powder residue
in his pocket. Id. at 16. At approximately four
minutes and forty seconds after Chaudoin began recording,
Chaudoin placed Peguero in handcuffs because of his erratic
behavior. Id. at 14, 54. Chaudoin then moved Peguero
behind the Murano with Echevarria. Id. at 58. At
approximately five minutes after Chaudoin began recording,
Chaudoin told Neese that he found cocaine on Echevarria.
Id. at 54. At some point between Neese asking
Peguero for consent and Chaudoin telling Neese he had found
cocaine on Echevarria, Neese began searching Peguero's
vehicle. Id. at 54.
testified that Neese searched the vehicle without
Peguero's consent for the following reasons: (1) the
suspected drug transaction at the McDonald's in a high
crime area (Id. at 55); (2) the cocaine found on
Echevarria (Id. at 56); (3) the straw with powder
residue found on Peguero (Id.); (4) both Peguero and
Echevarria opening their doors when the detectives initiated
the stop (Id. at 55); (5) Echevarria's agitated
movements and his attempts to reach back towards the car
(Id.); and (6) Peguero's agitated movements and
his attempts to reach back towards the car. Id.
Based on these observations, Chaudoin suspected that
Echevarria could have a weapon, and this suspicion
“furthered our cause to believe that there would be
more drugs in the car.” Id. Further, based on
Chaudoin's and Neese's experience that “drugs
and weapons typically go together, ” both detectives
believed that there would be “more weapons in the
car.” Id. at 56.
search of the vehicle revealed two guns: a handgun and a
rifle. Neese found a Taurus, Model PT 745 Pro, .45
semi-automatic pistol, in the glove box in the front
passenger side. Id. at 16; DN 1 at 1. The other
firearm, a ROMARM/CUGIR, Model Draco, 7.62 x 39-millimeter
semi-automatic rifle, Neese found in a camouflage Gucci gym
bag behind the driver's side front seat. DN 42 at 16; DN
1 at 1. According to detective Chaudoin, the semi-automatic
rifle in the Gucci bag was immediately visible to Neese ...