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COA affirms officer’s stop of teen involved in mall ruckus

August 24, 2016

A police officer had reasonable suspicion to stop and search a teen at an Indianapolis mall on Black Friday last year whom was believed to be involved in a shouting match with another group of people in a department store, the Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed.

An asset protection manager for Macys called police around 2 a.m. on Nov. 27, 2015, after observing two groups of people yelling obscenities at each other. The security officer was concerned they might fight and that one person could have a gun. By the time police arrived, both groups had left Macys. Employees pointed to the two groups, one of which included J.J., which was walking in a parking lot by Dick’s Sporting Goods. Indianapolis police officer Brian Silcox drove around the corner and saw the three men, who matched the Dick’s employee’s description, walking alone in the area.

Silcox stopped his car, got out, and told the group that police got a call about a disturbance and a weapon was involved. He asked if anyone had weapons on them, to which one man said yes, and that he had a permit. The other officers then patted down the men, which led to discovering a loaded handgun on J.J.

He was alleged to have committed Class A misdemeanors dangerous possession of a firearm and carrying a handgun without a license, if committed by an adult. The court denied his motion to suppress and his objections to the evidence at the hearing. He was found to have committed dangerous possession of a firearm.

J.J. maintained the police lacked reasonable suspicion to stop him in the mall parking lot, so the gun they found on him was inadmissible. But the judges found the officers had reasonable suspicion that criminal activity had occurred or was about to occur based on the eye witness accounts of the incident and there were no other men matching the description of the group in the area where a witness said they walked. The investigatory stop did not violate the Fourth Amendment or Article 1, Section 11 of the Indiana Constitution, the judges held.

The COA did remand the matter with instructions to clarify the status of the second count, carrying a handgun without a license. The record isn’t clear whether the juvenile court dismissed that count, merged it with count I or entered a not true finding.

The case is J.J. v. State of Indiana, 49A02-1601-JV-161.
 

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