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Reasonable Suspicion – Stop – Basis – Warrant Execution – leaving house where warrant being executed

State v. Louis Taylor, 226 Wis.2d 490, 595 N.W.2d 56 (Ct. App. 1999)
For Taylor: Donald T. Lang, SPD, Madison Appellate.

Holding: Taylor walked out the back door as police were knocking on the front door to execute a warrant for someone else, in an area described as “high drug … high gang.” The police were entitled to seize him:

We agree with the trial court that the totality of the facts supports a reasonable basis for Veselik’s suspicion that something unlawful was afoot with Taylor.  Taylor was leaving a residence secured by police officers for a lawful purpose (serving a bench warrant) through an unusual route that took him into an enclosed backyard.  He appeared to be concerned with police officers who were knocking at the front door while he was leaving the house and attempting to place something in his jacket pocket.  At the very least, Taylor was leaving the target residence and he may have had information concerning the subject of the warrant.  The essence of good police work is to briefly stop an individual where the circumstances indicate that the status quo be temporarily maintained in order to obtain information.  See State v. Williamson, 58 Wis.2d 514, 518, 206 N.W.2d 613, 615 (1973).  We conclude that Veselik was discharging a legitimate investigative function when he stopped Taylor and that the stop was warranted by the totality of the existing facts and circumstances known to Veselik.

He was also frisked, leading to discovery of drugs and a gun were found; the frisk is also upheld, for much the same reasons as the stop:

Taylor left the house while police officers were attempting to serve a bench warrant on a person they expected to be at the residence.  He left through the back door, repeatedly looked in the direction of the officers who were knocking on the front door, and turned into a backyard enclosed by a six-foot-high fence.  Veselik saw him put a paper bag in his jacket pocket.  Veselik described the neighborhood as dangerous, as a “high gang area” and as a “high drug area with multiple gunshots throughout the nights.”  He added that “[t]here [are] multiple deaths there.”  Veselik testified that he “reached and felt the bag that [Taylor] had tucked into his pocket, and [that he] felt the grip of a handgun, a revolver.” (Emphasis added.)  As with the investigative stop, we conclude that Veselik had a reasonable suspicion that he was in danger of physical injury during his encounter with Taylor and that the pat-down search of Taylor was warranted by the totality of the existing circumstances known to Veselik.


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