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Judges order trial in drunk driving case

May 30, 2012

The Indiana Court of Appeals upheld the partial denial of a defendant’s motion to suppress evidence, finding that the trial court properly determined that the evidence seized by the uniform on-duty police officers shouldn’t be suppressed pursuant to the exclusionary rule.

Carmel Police Officer Jeff Sedberry was driving home with his wife and daughter when he saw Clifton Ervin’s car weaving and crossing the center line. Sedberry believed Ervin might be drunk, so he called the Fishers Police Department to report Ervin’s location. He continued to follow Ervin’s car until Ervin abruptly pulled into a neighborhood, stopped his car and got out, walking toward Sedberry’s car. Sedberry was not in a police vehicle or police uniform and was off duty at the time.

Sedberry drew his gun, told Ervin he was a police officer and ordered him back to his car. Sedberry said he felt his family could be in danger based on Ervin’s behavior. Police arrived to the scene shortly and Ervin was ultimately arrested for driving while intoxicated and other related offenses.

He filed a motion to suppress, claiming he was illegally seized by Sedberry since he wasn’t in uniform or driving a marked police car. The trial court only granted the motion relating to the time Sedberry ordered Ervin back to his car until uniform officers arrived. The trial court denied suppressing the evidence relating to the uniformed officers, finding application of the exclusionary rule would be inappropriate.

In Clifton Ervin v. State of Indiana, 29A05-1109-CR-454, the appellate court analyzed Indiana Code 9-30-2-2, which outlines when an officer may arrest someone, with the goal of preventing police impersonators. It found that the statute wasn’t implicated to the extent that the evidence should be suppressed. The statute says an officer may not arrest a person for “violation of an Indiana law regulating the use and operation of a motor vehicle on an Indiana highway” unless the officer is in uniform or a marked police vehicle. However, Sedberry didn’t arrested Ervin.

The Court of Appeals remanded the cause for trial.

 

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