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Being in alley at 3 a.m., walking into bushes suspicious

State v. Arturo Luiz-Lorenzo, 2015AP1540-CR, 5/18/2016, District 2 (one-judge decision; ineligible for publication); case activity (including briefs)

Police discovered cocaine on Luiz-Lorenzo as a result of his arrest; he challenges the grounds for the initial Terry stop.

The Kenosha officer who stopped Luiz-Lorenzo was responding to a reported disturbance around 3 a.m. On arriving in the area, he found no one at first, but eventually saw Luiz-Lorenzo standing against a wall in an alley. The officer approached Luiz-Lorenzo in his marked squad, and Luiz-Lorenzo “immediately started to walk into some nearby bushes,” at which point the officer ordered him to stop and he complied. (¶4).

The court “assumes without deciding” that Luiz-Lorenzo was seized at this point (indeed; it’s hard to see how a person who stops on the “order” of the police could reasonably feel free to leave) and concludes that the circumstances gave rise to reasonable suspicion:

Hancock identified a number of specific facts supporting his suspicion that Luiz-Lorenzo might be involved in criminal activity. Hancock was already on call investigating a complaint for disorderly conduct. Luiz-Lorenzo was not on a midday smoke break out back. It was 3:00 a.m., after all the businesses had closed, in a poorly lit alley, and Luiz-Lorenzo was all by himself. Hancock was familiar with the area; he had prior contact with criminals there, and he testified that people would use the alley to escape detection from the main road. Given his familiarity with the alley and the late hour, Hancock decided— reasonably so—to investigate further and proceed down the alley. Upon seeing Hancock pull up, Luiz-Lorenzo did not continue to wait for his ride; he immediately headed for the bushes. Hancock testified that, in his opinion, “someone shouldn’t be [there] at that time of night.” He suspected that Luiz-Lorenzo might be breaking into a business or committing some other crime.

(¶10).

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