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Reasonable Suspicion – Stop – Basis – Vehicle: Armed Robbery Investigation

State v. Anthony Harris, 206 Wis. 2d 243, 557 N.W.2d 245 (1996), reversing unpublished decision of court of appeals
For Harris: Robert J. Diaz


The only specific and articulable facts of the record before us, namely that a vehicle pulled away from the curb close to the robbery suspect’s address, and that the vehicle contained several black males, do not amount to reasonable, articulable suspicion. Nor does a consideration of all of the circumstances surrounding the incident add up to reasonable, articulable suspicion. There is nothing in the record to indicate the time or geographic interval between the actual robbery and this seizure. The physical description of the robbery suspect is general, and at the time the officers curbed the vehicle in question, they had little or no opportunity to match even the general physical descriptors to the occupants of the vehicle.15From this record we know little or nothing about the armed robbery, the suspect or the information the police may have possessed about the suspect, the crime, or his getaway. None of the six LaFave factors were seriously addressed by the State in its presentation of the evidence at the suppression hearing. Pulling away from a parked position at a curb on a residential street, even if close to the suspect’s address, is not reasonably suspicious behavior. Three men in a car on a residential street at 11:30 at night is not reasonably suspicious behavior. The circuit court correctly concluded that the record failed to establish that the police had a reasonable, articulable suspicion to make the stop.

15 We observed in Guzy that the most important consideration concerning a physical description is whether the description is sufficiently unique to permit a reasonable degree of selectivity from the group of all potential suspects. State v. Guzy, 139 Wis. 2d 663, 680, 407 N.W. 2d 548 (1987) (citing 3 Wayne R. LaFave, Search and Seizure, sec. 9.3(d), at 464 (2d ed. 1987)).


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