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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. 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: http://media.star-telegram.com/Munchausenmoms/ Here are the two research papers: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/0145213487900810 http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0145213403000309 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.

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