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Observation and training provided 'reasonable suspicion' to conduct traffic stop

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A man’s voluntary confession that he was a habitual traffic violator is admissible even though he had not broken any laws when the sheriff’s deputy pulled him over.

The Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court’s denial of a motion to suppress the evidence on the grounds that the traffic stop was illegal. In Gabriel Atkinson v. State of Indiana, 12A02-1302-CR-149, the appeals court concluded the totality of the circumstances supports the finding that the deputy had a reasonable suspicion for the investigatory traffic stop.

Clinton County Sheriff’s Deputy Dennis Tillman pulled Atkinson over after observing the driver repeatedly drive over the fog line on the right side of the road. Atkinson then told the deputy he was a habitual traffic violator.

After being charged with a class D felony, operating a vehicle as an HTV, Atkinson filed a motion to suppress the evidence. He asserted he should not have been pulled over because he did not commit a traffic infraction.  

Pointing to Wells v. State, 772 N.E.2d 487 (Ind. Ct. App. 2002) and Barrett v. State 837 N.E.2d 1022 (Ind. Ct. App. 2005), the court of appeals explained the driver does not have to commit an actual infraction in order for the officer to become reasonably suspicious to conduct a stop. Rather, in these two cases, the court considered the officer’s observation of erratic driving along with other factors in determining whether all the circumstances provided reasonable suspicion.  

Although Atkinson crossing the fog line was not an infraction, the COA found the deputy’s protracted observation coupled with his training and experience enabled him to determine that he was potentially watching an impaired driver.

“In sum, the State presented articulable facts and observations by Deputy Tillman, the totality of which are sufficient to support a finding of reasonable suspicion to conduct an investigatory stop of Atkinson,” Judge Terry Crone wrote for the court. “As such, we find no abuse of discretion in the trial court’s admission of Atkinson’s identity and statements made during a stop concerning his HTV status.”
   

 

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  • BS
    Well once again the COA writes the law, instead of enforcing the law. Their take is the cop has a badge, so the cop is right, rather, a badge is a license to break the law. I suggest, that the people in this country start surfing the internet for police misconduct and what the police get away with, in Berwyn Heights, Maryland, the police made a drug raid on the Mayor's house and killed his two dogs, of course they did this on a misconception that they were aware of, look it up. Remember Rodney King, things like that go on in America everyday. Just a few days ago, the police in Miami Beach, tasered an 18 year old to death, even after he was handcuffed and on the ground, then they high fived each other! Innocent people are sent to jail everyday, you could be next!

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  1. Hail to our Constitutional Law Expert in the Executive Office! “What you’re not paying attention to is the fact that I just took an action to change the law,” Obama said.

  2. What is this, the Ind Supreme Court thinking that there is a separation of powers and limited enumerated powers as delegated by a dusty old document? Such eighteen century thinking, so rare and unwanted by the elites in this modern age. Dictate to us, dictate over us, the massess are chanting! George Soros agrees. Time to change with times Ind Supreme Court, says all President Snows. Rule by executive decree is the new black.

  3. I made the same argument before a commission of the Indiana Supreme Court and then to the fedeal district and federal appellate courts. Fell flat. So very glad to read that some judges still beleive that evidentiary foundations matter.

  4. KUDOS to the Indiana Supreme Court for realizing that some bureacracies need to go to the stake. Recall what RWR said: "No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we'll ever see on this earth!" NOW ... what next to this rare and inspiring chopping block? Well, the Commission on Gender and Race (but not religion!?!) is way overdue. And some other Board's could be cut with a positive for State and the reputation of the Indiana judiciary.

  5. During a visit where an informant with police wears audio and video, does the video necessary have to show hand to hand transaction of money and narcotics?

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