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Resisting law enforcement conviction reversed because man had no duty to stop

July 3, 2013

Finding police lacked reasonable suspicion and probable cause when responding to a call about a disturbance that would justify a seizure of a Marion County man, the Indiana Court of Appeals concluded Keion Gaddie was subject to an unlawful stop.

Gaddie appealed his Class A misdemeanor conviction of resisting law enforcement that was a result of him refusing to stop walking away from a police officer after the officer ordered Gaddie to stop. The officer was responding to a report of a disturbance at Gaddie’s home and was trying to round everyone up in the front yard to keep an eye on the group. The officer did not see Gaddie or anyone else commit a crime before ordering Gaddie to stop nor was he under arrest.

The state had to prove beyond a reasonable doubt Gaddie knowingly or intentionally fled from the officer after the officer identified himself and ordered Gaddie to stop. Gaddie claims there’s insufficient evidence because he had no duty to stop in what he considered a consensual encounter.

The Court of Appeals in Corbin v. State, 568 N.E.2d 1064, 1065 (Ind. Ct. App. 1991), held that “evidence of flight following a police officer’s order to stop is admissible in a prosecution for resisting law enforcement regardless of the lawfulness of the order.”

“To agree with the rationale in Corbin would effectively render the consensual encounter nonexistent in the state of Indiana,” Chief Judge Margret Robb wrote in Keion Gaddie v. State of Indiana, 49A02-1212-CR-953. “Thus, we hold that as long as a seizure has not taken place within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment, a person is free to disregard a police officer’s order to stop and cannot be convicted of resisting law enforcement for fleeing.”

The judges rejected the state’s argument that there was reasonable suspicion to conduct an investigatory stop. But a report of a disturbance without more is insufficient to create a basis for conducting an investigatory stop, the court ruled. Gaddie was walking beside his home and had not committed any crime. The officer’s explanation that safety was a concern was “merely speculative,” Robb wrote.

Because Gaddie was under no duty to stop when the officer ordered him to do so, the judges reversed his conviction.

 

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