Justices reverse teen’s handgun conviction

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Finding police did not have reasonable suspicion to stop an 18-year-old male who was in a high-crime area where a shooting had occurred days earlier by a group of youths, the Indiana Supreme Court reversed his conviction of misdemeanor possession of a handgun without a license.

Jordan Jacobs, then 18, was in an Indianapolis park with a red T-shirt over his shoulder and hanging out with a few other people. Days earlier, there were reports of shots fired by teens wearing red clothing, a known gang color, in the same area. Officer Terry Smith sat in an unmarked car and watched the group, seeing Jacobs and another person leave the area when a park ranger came by on patrol. The two later returned. Smith believed Jacobs could be truant.

Smith called for backup and when police arrived, Jacobs again quickly walked away. He was ordered to stop and eventually complied. When handcuffed, police saw the outline of a handgun in his pants.

He was convicted of Class A misdemeanor possession of a handgun without a license. He had objected to the testimony of the officers and admission of the handgun on the grounds the officer did not have reasonable suspicion to stop him under the state or federal constitutions. Jacobs was sentenced to one year probation.

The Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed in a divided decision, but the justices reversed Thursday. Justice Mark Massa wrote police lacked reasonable suspicion to stop the teen under both the Fourth Amendment and Article 1, Section 11 of the Indiana Constitution.

He pointed out Smith believed Jacobs could be truant, but did not stop him until hours later when school would have been out. Massa also wrote that Jacobs’ act of leaving the park when the patrol car came by, then returning, is not enough to establish reasonable suspicion of criminal activity.

And even though he had a red T-shirt draped on his shoulder, which could give rise that he was involved with a gang given the number of other people wearing red in the park at the same time, police had no reasonable suspicion that Jacobs’ specifically was involved in any way with the earlier shooting. Mere suspected affiliation with the suspected gang is not enough to justify a Terry stop on its own, Massa wrote in Jordan Jacobs v. State of Indiana, 49S02-1706-CR-438.

Justice Steven David concurred in result.



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  1. He TIL team,please zap this comment too since it was merely marking a scammer and not reflecting on the story. Thanks, happy Monday, keep up the fine work.

  2. You just need my social security number sent to your Gmail account to process then loan, right? Beware scammers indeed.

  3. The appellate court just said doctors can be sued for reporting child abuse. The most dangerous form of child abuse with the highest mortality rate of any form of child abuse (between 6% and 9% according to the below listed studies). Now doctors will be far less likely to report this form of dangerous child abuse in Indiana. If you want to know what this is, google the names Lacey Spears, Julie Conley (and look at what happened when uninformed judges returned that child against medical advice), Hope Ybarra, and Dixie Blanchard. Here is some really good reporting on what this allegation was: Here are the two research papers: 25% of sibling are dead in that second study. 25%!!! Unbelievable ruling. Chilling. Wrong.

  4. Mr. Levin says that the BMV engaged in misconduct--that the BMV (or, rather, someone in the BMV) knew Indiana motorists were being overcharged fees but did nothing to correct the situation. Such misconduct, whether engaged in by one individual or by a group, is called theft (defined as knowingly or intentionally exerting unauthorized control over the property of another person with the intent to deprive the other person of the property's value or use). Theft is a crime in Indiana (as it still is in most of the civilized world). One wonders, then, why there have been no criminal prosecutions of BMV officials for this theft? Government misconduct doesn't occur in a vacuum. An individual who works for or oversees a government agency is responsible for the misconduct. In this instance, somebody (or somebodies) with the BMV, at some time, knew Indiana motorists were being overcharged. What's more, this person (or these people), even after having the error of their ways pointed out to them, did nothing to fix the problem. Instead, the overcharges continued. Thus, the taxpayers of Indiana are also on the hook for the millions of dollars in attorneys fees (for both sides; the BMV didn't see fit to avail itself of the services of a lawyer employed by the state government) that had to be spent in order to finally convince the BMV that stealing money from Indiana motorists was a bad thing. Given that the BMV official(s) responsible for this crime continued their misconduct, covered it up, and never did anything until the agency reached an agreeable settlement, it seems the statute of limitations for prosecuting these folks has not yet run. I hope our Attorney General is paying attention to this fiasco and is seriously considering prosecution. Indiana, the state that works . . . for thieves.

  5. I'm glad that attorney Carl Hayes, who represented the BMV in this case, is able to say that his client "is pleased to have resolved the issue". Everyone makes mistakes, even bureaucratic behemoths like Indiana's BMV. So to some extent we need to be forgiving of such mistakes. But when those mistakes are going to cost Indiana taxpayers millions of dollars to rectify (because neither plaintiff's counsel nor Mr. Hayes gave freely of their services, and the BMV, being a state-funded agency, relies on taxpayer dollars to pay these attorneys their fees), the agency doesn't have a right to feel "pleased to have resolved the issue". One is left wondering why the BMV feels so pleased with this resolution? The magnitude of the agency's overcharges might suggest to some that, perhaps, these errors were more than mere oversight. Could this be why the agency is so "pleased" with this resolution? Will Indiana motorists ever be assured that the culture of incompetence (if not worse) that the BMV seems to have fostered is no longer the status quo? Or will even more "overcharges" and lawsuits result? It's fairly obvious who is really "pleased to have resolved the issue", and it's not Indiana's taxpayers who are on the hook for the legal fees generated in these cases.