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United States v. Jones

United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky, Louisville Division

December 20, 2019



          Rebecca Grady Jennings, District Judge.

         This matter is before the Court on Defendant, Antonio Jones' (“Jones”), Motion to Suppress Vehicle Search and Statements (“Motion”). [DE 17]. The Court held a suppression hearing. [DE 22]. This matter is now ripe [DE 26; DE 27]. For the reasons below, the Court DENIES the Motion [DE 17].

         I. BACKGROUND

         In the early morning of January 11, 2019 Officer Sholar of the Louisville Metro Police observed Antonio Jones' “vehicle idling on the side of the road right in front of 2407 West Muhammad Ali Boulevard.”[1] [DE 24 at 54:23-24]. Officer Sholar saw Jones pull “off without using a turn signal pulling into a lane of traffic.” Id. at 55:5-6. Officer Sholar initiated a traffic stop of the vehicle. Id. at 55:11. But, instead of stopping immediately, the vehicle “pull[ed] all the way over to the far left lane without using a signal and then [came] to a stop.” Id. at 55:18-20.

         Officer Sholar testified that he stopped Jones' vehicle for three reasons: 1) Jones did not use a turn signal when pulling into a lane of traffic from a parked position on the curb; 2) the rear license plate of Jones' car was not illuminated; and 3) there was a “sticker in the rear windshield.” Id. at 55:5-9.

         Officer Norton and Officer Blackman arrived on scene a few seconds later. All three officers then converged on the vehicle: Officer Sholar walked to the driver's side; Officer Norton and Officer Blackman walked to the passenger's side. [Norton Body Camera, 00:49-00:55]. Officer Blackman crept towards the car with his hand on his gun. Id. at 00:57-1:15. Officer Sholar asked Jones if he had “any guns or drugs in the car.” Id. at 1:22-1:25. Jones responded that he was on his way to work at Spinelli's. Id. His co-worker, Joy, was also in the car with him. [DE 24 at 95:1].

         Officer Sholar told Jones that he smelled “weed smoke in the back [of the car].” [Sholar Body Camera, 00:29-00:32]. Jones said he was not smoking marijuana and that there was no marijuana in the car. Id. at 00:44-00:50. Based on the smell of marijuana, Officer Sholar instructed Jones to exit the vehicle. Id. at 00:58. Officer Sholar testified that “as [he] . . . pull[ed] the door open, ” Jones “grab[ed] it and pull[ed] it shut.” [DE 24 56:3]. Officer Sholar then “pulled the door back open, ” removed Jones by force, and handcuffed him. Id. at 56:3-4.

         Officer Sholar then began searching the car. While he was searching it, the officers asked Jones and Joy to stand by the back bumper of Jones' car. [Blackmun Body Camera, 4:43]. They were first guarded by Officer Blackman. Id. at 4:14. While Officer Blackman was guarding them, Blackman and Jones discussed why the officers stopped Jones' car:

Jones: Why would you all even pull me . . . you said my rear license plate isn't ‘lluminated. Look at that shit. That motherfucker is ‘lluminated.
Blackman: Ok, you also didn't use your turn signal when you pulled off.
Jones: Ah man, I didn't have to pull off with no turn signal.
Blackman: And you are not allowed, you are not allowed to have that sticker right there.
. . .
Jones: Use my turn signal to pull out onto a road? There was no traffic.
Blackman: Ok. It doesn't matter if there is traffic or not. You still have to use your turn signal.
Jones: You right. I'm sorry. I'm wrong for not using my turn signal . . . to pull out on a road with no traffic on, man . . . That's crazy Blackman, man. That's all it is, bro. That's it. You got everything.

Id. at 07:00-07:12; 7:50-08:15 (emphasis added)

         Officer Sholar found a handgun and pills in Jones' car. [Sholar Body Camera, 03:20; 5:45]. Officer Blackman then walked to his car, [Blackman Body Camera, 9:44], Officer Norton took over guard duties [Norton Body Camera, 9:40], and Officer Sholar continued to search the car. [Sholar Body Camera, 09:55].

         While Officer Norton was guarding Jones, he and Jones quarreled. They disagreed about whether: 1) Officer Norton should tell Jones his name (Norton declined, but Jones eventually was able read it on his uniform); 2) Jones should be allowed to pick a penny off the ground for “bond money”; 3) the police should tow Jones' car; 4) the police were justified in stopping Jones' car and pulling him out of it (Officer Norton told Jones that, under Pennsylvania v. Mimms, the police can “ask the driver to step out of the vehicle for any reason” and then asked Jones if he went to law school); and 5) Officer Norton should be a “people person” with a good attitude. [Norton Body Camera, 09:55-15:10].

         At a pause in their argument, Officer Norton read Jones his Miranda rights. Id. at 14:16-14:35. Officer Norton ...

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