from the Judgment of Sentence April 27, 2016 in the Court of
Common Pleas of Lancaster County Criminal Division at No(s):
BEFORE: LAZARUS, RANSOM, and FITZGERALD, [*] JJ.
Donte Lamar Parker, appeals from the judgment of sentence
entered in the Lancaster County Court of Common Pleas
following his convictions for possession of a controlled
substance with the intent to deliver ("PWID"),
criminal use of a communication facility and criminal
conspiracy. Appellant challenges the trial court's
order denying his motion to suppress information that he
provided to police officers during an encounter on the street
on August 1, 2014. We reverse the order denying suppression.
November 20, 2014, Appellant was arrested for committing
drug-related offenses on June 24, 2014 and July 17, 2014. The
Commonwealth filed (1) an information at No. 5814-2014
charging Appellant with committing PWID and criminal use of a
communication facility on June 24, 2014, and (2) an
information at No. 5837-2014 charging Appellant with
committing PWID, criminal conspiracy and criminal use of a
communication facility on July 17, 2014. Subsequently, the
trial court granted the Commonwealth's motion to
consolidate both informations for trial.
to trial, Appellant filed a motion to suppress evidence that
police officers obtained during an encounter on the street
with Appellant on August 1, 2014. Mot. to Suppress, 7/17/15.
On February 1, 2016, the trial court held an evidentiary
hearing and denied the motion.
trial court did not enter findings of fact and conclusions of
law at the conclusion of the suppression hearing, but it
found the following facts in its Pa.R.A.P. 1925(a)
On June 24, 2014, Officer James Hagy was the secondary
surveillance officer for a "buywalk"
operation in the first block of West James
Street in the City of Lancaster. The primary surveillance
officer that day was Officer James Boas. Officer Hagy
testified that the target of the investigation was a dealer
that went by the street name of "Heart". Officer
Boas radioed to his fellow officers the following description
of the target that was received from the undercover officer
involved in the drug buy: "black male, dreadlock style
hair, wearing an orange shirt, [and] camo shorts."
Officer Hagy testified that he then observed the individual
leaving the location where the buy occurred, and noticed that
he walked with a limp or "unique gait".
0fficer Hagy described a "buy-walk"
operation as one where the police utilize an undercover
police officer and sometimes a confidential informant to go
out and make street-level drug buys. After that buy, the
individual that sold drugs to the undercover or the informant
is allowed to leave and is identified at a later time,
whether it's using investigatory means with cameras,
researching databases with different addresses, phone
numbers, et cetera. As an absolute last resort, they
are stopped and identified.
On August 1, 2014, Officer Hagy was parked in a police van at
the McDonald's parking lot on West King Street in the
City of Lancaster when he observed the individual from June
24, 2014, whom he knew by the street name "Heart".
Officer Hagy was "100 percent positive that [this man]
was the same individual" he had observed on June 24th.
Because "Heart" was the subject of an ongoing
felony drug investigation by the Selective Enforcement Unit,
Officer Hagy instructed Officer Boas, who was on bike patrol
at the time, to stop the individual.
Officer Boas testified that on August 1, 2014, at
approximately 10:00 p.m., he was on bike patrol in the
vicinity of the McDonald's on West King Street. Officer
Boas was informed by Officer Hagy at that time that their
target, known on the street as "Heart, " was
observed walking from the McDonald's parking lot east on
West King Street. Officer Boas followed this individual for a
short time and then stopped him at the corner of Prince and
King Streets. As a pretext for stopping him, Officer Boas
testified that he told the individual "there was a
disturbance at McDonald's and he was a part of the
disturbance." Officer Boas asked for the man's name,
date of birth, address, telephone number and Social Security
number because the suspect did not have any identification on
him at the time. After the suspect's identity was
confirmed, he was released. At all times, the suspect was
cooperative and provided the information requested of him.
The detention lasted no longer than five minutes. Officer
Boas conceded on cross-examination that the sole purpose for
the stop was to identify the suspect for purposes of their
felony drug investigation.
Trial Ct. Op., 7/18/16, at 5-7 (with minor grammatical
revisions and record citations omitted). These findings of
fact are accurate except for one omission. Officer Boas did
not stop Appellant by himself on August 1, 2014. Instead,
both Officer Boas and Officer Mease stopped Appellant by
stationing their bicycles in front of him. N.T. Suppression
Hr'g, 2/1/16, at 29-30.
moved to suppress the information that he gave Officer Boas
on August 1, 2014, i.e., his name, date of birth,
address, telephone number and Social Security number, on the
grounds that Officer Boas (1) lacked reasonable suspicion to
detain Appellant, and (2) gave a pretextual reason for
stopping Appellant. Id. at 3-4. Following an
evidentiary hearing, the trial court found that Officer Boas
had reasonable suspicion to stop Appellant and denied
Appellant's motion. Id. at 37.
February 2, 2016, a jury found Appellant guilty of all
charges. The trial court sentenced Appellant on April 27,
2016 to an aggregate term of sixteen months' to three
years' imprisonment followed by two years' probation.
On May 27, 2016, Appellant timely appealed. Both Appellant
and the trial court complied with Pa.R.A.P. 1925.
raises one issue in this appeal, a challenge to the evidence
obtained from him on August 1, 2014:
Did the trial court err in denying [Appellant's] Motion
to Suppress, where police subjected him to an investigative
detention without reasonable suspicion that he was involved