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COA: Anonymous tipster’s information enough for conviction

March 8, 2016

The Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed a man’s conviction of unlawful possession of a firearm by a serious violent felon after it found an anonymous tipster’s information constituted reasonable suspicion.

An anonymous tipster called and said he saw someone inside a silver or gray vehicle waving a firearm at a local apartment complex. An officer came to the apartment complex and spotted a gray vehicle in the parking lot. After turning on his lights and pulling up beside it, he questioned the driver and as he did, he noticed a firearm on the floor of the car.

A second officer arrived, and Tyrone Grayson gave the officers permission to search his car, where they found the firearm. When they found Grayson had prior felony convictions, they arrested him, and he was charged with unlawful possession.

At his trial, Grayson raised a motion to suppress but it was denied because the court said the officer had reason to believe criminal activity occurred. Grayson also argued he shouldn’t have been arrested because the information was based only on an anonymous tip, making the stop unreasonable. His objection was overruled.

Grayson appealed his conviction and said the search of his car and stop should not have been performed because of the anonymous tip. An anonymous tip is not enough itself to give reason for a stop, but when combined with other evidence can be enough, the COA said, and in this case it was.

The fact that a man was waving around a firearm early in the morning does constitute an immediate danger, the COA said. When the first officer got to the scene, Grayson’s was the only silver car in sight. When just asking simple questions to the driver, the officer noticed the firearm in the car; he did not conduct a search and seizure, and did not search the car until he got permission from the driver.

The COA cited Sellmer v. State, 842 N.E.2d 358, 361 (Ind. 2006) when making its ruling, saying this case was very similar. In both cases, the suspect lied when asked about the crime, even though officers could see evidence in plain sight.
All of this meant the officer conducted a proper stop, and Grayson’s conviction was upheld.

The case is Tyrone Grayson v. State of Indiana, 49A05-1505-CR-350.

 

 

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