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Anonymous tip about oral sex in truck supports traffic stop

State v. Andrew W. Bunn, 2019AP2127-CR, 9/9/20, District 1 (1-judge opinion, ineligible for publication); case activity

One evening, an unknown woman approached a cop car in a church parking lot near a playground and said that two adults were having oral sex in a pickup truck on the other side of a fence. The cops saw the truck but no activity inside. They didn’t ask for the woman’s name, but they did go investigate.

They saw the truck driving away, followed it, and then conducted a traffic stop. They  discovered that Bunn had guns. Bunn lost his suppression motion and appealed pro se.

Bunn was convicted of carrying concealed weapons, not of any sex crimes. The court of  appeals never once says what crime the officers claimed to have reasonable suspicion of before stopping him. It  sharply criticized him for filing a “rambling and incoherent brief.” As best it could tell, Bunn was arguing that the cops lacked reasonable suspicion to stop his truck based on the complaint of a citizen witness.  Opinion, ¶8.

Unlike the court of appeals, the State’s brief could discern the issue. The woman who complained about the oral sex was a citizen, but she was also anonymous because the cops did not know her or ask for her name. So was she a citizen informant or an anonymous tipster? If she were classified as an anonymous tipster the court would have to consider various factors in order to determine whether her tip was reliable enough to create reasonable suspicion. The court of appeals did not address that question. It assumed that she was a citizen witness, listed reasons why the cop was right to rely on her concern, and affirmed the denial of Bunn’s motion to suppress. Opinion, ¶13.


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