Court affirms weapon, drug convictions after bar incident

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A man’s arrest and conviction on gun and cocaine charges after an anonymous tipster called police and said a man was pointing a gun in an Anderson bar was affirmed Tuesday by the Indiana Court of Appeals.

In Deshawn Lamont Redfield v. State of Indiana, 48A02-1608-CR-1806, the COA affirmed Deshawn Redfield’s convictions of unlawful possession of a firearm by a serious violent felon, as a Class B felony; possession of cocaine, as a Class C felony; pointing a firearm, as a Class D felony; and resisting law enforcement, as a Class A misdemeanor.

An officer was dispatched to the Birdhouse bar in June 2014 on a tip that someone described as a black male with a gray shirt and hat had a gun. The officer spotted the man, Redfield, and radioed for backup. A witness later said Refield had pointed the gun at others, upset that people were buying drinks but he didn’t get one purchased for him.

When an officer announced he was looking for someone at the bar after receiving a call about someone with a gun, the officer said Redfield took a step away and attempted to move from the officer’s vantage point. The officer said Redfield made a “drawing motion,” prompting him to immediately draw his sidearm. He ordered Redfield to stop and show his hands, but the record says Redfield then attempted to walk away, after which an officer used a Taser on him. A gun and cocaine were found on Redfield.

Writing for the panel, Judge Edward Najam drew a distinction between this case and Pinner v. State, ___ N.E.3d ___, No. 49S02-1611-CR-610, slip op. at 5-10 (Ind. May 9, 2017), in which the Supreme Court ruled that a report of possession of a firearm, without more, is not sufficient to establish reasonable suspicion of criminal activity.

“While we agree with Redfield that Officer (Gabe) Bailey had no reasonable suspicion of criminal activity at the time he initially approached, that fact does not negate the reasonableness of Officer Bailey’s ensuing conduct in response to Redfield’s behavior during the encounter,” the court held. The opinion notes it is settled law that an officer is entitled to frisk a suspect for his own protection when the suspect’s behavior gives rise to suspicion.

The court found under these facts that Redfield’s Fourth Amendments rights were not violated, and that he had not preserved a claim under Article 1, Section 11 of the Indiana Constitution. Even if he had, the court wrote, this argument also would have failed.

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