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Officer did not violate 4th Amendment in finding gun in man's coat

January 31, 2012

A police officer who arrested a man and then found a gun in his coat did not violate the man’s rights, the Indiana Court of Appeals held.

In Christopher Stark v. State of Indiana, No. 49A05-1104-CR-152, a police officer arrested Christopher Stark after approaching his idling vehicle and finding Stark – who was under age 21 – had been drinking alcohol. Stark was acting suspiciously and appeared to slide something underneath his coat, which was on his lap.

After the officer arrested Stark, he returned to the car and retrieved the coat, which contained a loaded handgun. In his interlocutory appeal, Stark appealed his denial of his motion to suppress that evidence, holding his rights had been violated when the officer retrieved his coat.

The COA held that the degree of intrusion was minimal, and that with three unsecured passengers still in the idling vehicle, safety concerns existed for the arresting officer. The appellate court affirmed the trial court’s denial of Stark’s motion to suppress.   




 

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