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Police had reasonable suspicion to prolong stop and conduct protective sweep

State v. Elisa Estrada, 2013AP2803-CR, District 2, (not recommended for publication); case activity

Estrada did not challenge the legality of the law enforcement’s decision to stop her vehicle for a traffic violation.  Her appeal focused on the decision to extend the stop longer than necessary to address a suspended registration in order to investigate a robbery that had occurred about 50 minutes earlier.  She highlighted weaknesses in the facts cited to show reasonable suspicion, but the court of appeals found them plenty strong enough.

Estrada was driving a Chevy Impala when the woman in the car with her was robbed by two men. The victim reported the crime, but Estrada did not.  Later Estrada was stopped, while driving the same car, for a traffic violation.  This time she had with two men with her.   One man matched a description of a man involved in the robbery.  Also, the victim had reported that one robber wore a gray hooded sweatshirt, and the officer saw a gray sweatshirt on the floor of the Impala. Having been told the robbery involved a gun, the officer detained Estrada and called for back up. Then the police conducted a protective sweep, which turned up a gun.  Thus, the court held:

Here, the information before the police provided reasonable suspicion that the two men in the Impala were the robbers and that Estrada had not been a “victim” of the robbery committed less than an hour earlier, but rather, that she had cooperated in it. The information possessed by the police also amounted to reasonable suspicion that the gun used in that robbery was on the scene, justifying the protective search of the vehicle. Slip op. ¶18.

 

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