United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania
Richard Caputo United States District Judge
me are three (3) motions to suppress filed by Defendant
Tyrone Greene. (Docs. 75, 77, 79). For the reasons that
follow, I will deny the motions.
November 20, 2014, at approximately 9:15 p.m., Officer Mark
Stefanowicz of the Hanover Township Police Department
observed a white van allegedly traveling without its
headlights or taillights activated. (Doc. 90, at 53-54). As a
result, Officer Stefanowicz initiated a traffic stop of the
van on Knox Street in Hanover Township. Id. at 58.
He approached the driver's side of the vehicle and asked
the driver, Jennifer Manley, for her driver's license,
vehicle registration, and proof of insurance. Id. at
56. Ms. Manley did not produce any of those documents;
instead, she handed Officer Stefanowicz a New York state
benefits card and a Hertz rental car agreement. Id.
The rental car agreement was in the name of "Kevin
Hurtudo-Moreno." Id. at 57. The front seat
passenger, Defendant Tyrone Greene, stated that Mr.
Hurtudo-Moreno was his brother. Id. The rental
agreement did not list any other authorized drivers.
Officer Stefanowicz was speaking with the occupants of the
van, he allegedly detected what he recognized to be an odor
of unburnt marijuana in the vehicle. Id. At 58-59.
Moreover, according to the Officer, Mr. Greene
exhibited a number of suspicious behaviors, including, but
not limited to, the following: repeatedly seeking to leave,
and attempting to leave, the scene of the traffic stop and
enter a residence located at 29 Knox Street, purportedly to
bring food inside, despite being advised by Officer
Stefanowicz that he was required to stay; initially standing
up and then sitting back down in the passenger seat when
ordered out of the vehicle; and standing up and reaching for
his waistband, as though trying to conceal something on his
(Doc. 83, at 3; see also doc. 90, at 59-60).
light of the above, Officer Stefanowicz conducted a
"Terry frisk" of Mr. Greene, and located a
bag of marijuana. (Doc. 90, at 63-65). Having placed Mr.
Greene under arrest for possession of marijuana, Officer
Stefanowicz attempted to turn Mr. Greene around to conduct a
further search but apparently noticed that Mr. Greene was
bending over and walking "in a manner as if to conceal
something on his person." (Doc. 83, at 4; Doc. 90, at
65-66; 69). Mr. Greene then vomited on the ground. (Doc. 90,
at 16). He was told to remain on the sidewalk with an officer
who had responded to the scene. Id. at 67. In the
meantime, Officer Stefanowicz conducted a search of the van
and located .40 caliber bullets in the glove box.
Id. at 68. The Officer also located .40 caliber
bullets in Ms. Manley's purse, along with a marijuana
Mr. Greene was being escorted to a police car, he apparently
continued to walk "in a strange, unusual manner,
consistent with attempting to conceal something in his
clothing or on his person." (Doc. 83, at 6). Mr. Greene
was then searched by an assisting officer, who located a
handgun on Mr. Greene's person. (Doc. 90, at 70).
Subsequent investigation revealed that the weapon - a
Beretta, Model 90, .40 caliber handgun, serial number
"TY00129" - was reported stolen in New York state
and that Mr. Greene is a previously convicted felon who is
prohibited from possessing firearms and ammunition. (Doc. 83,
at 35-36). Mr. Greene was also found to be in possession of
$4, 000. (Doc. 90, at 74).
result of the incident, Ms. Manley was charged with driving
without a license, driving after dark without lights on, and
possession of marijuana. (Doc. 83-1).
February 3, 2015, a federal grand jury returned an indictment
charging Mr. Greene with Count 1 - Convicted Felon in
Possession of a Firearm and Ammunition, in violation of 18
U.S.C. 922 § (g)(1); and Count 2 - Possession of
Marijuana, a Schedule I Controlled Substance, in violation of
21 U.S.C. § 844(a). (Doc. 1). The indictment also
includes a forfeiture allegation. Id.
light of the foregoing, Mr. Greene has filed three pretrial
motions, including (1) "Motion to Suppress Stop of
Vehicle" (Doc. 75); (2) "Motion to Suppress Seizure
of Defendant" (Doc. 77); and (3) "Motion to
Suppress Statements of Defendant." (Doc. 79). A hearing
on the motion was held on April 10, 2017. The motions have
been fully briefed and are now ripe for disposition. I will
address each in turn.
Fourth Amendment protects individuals from
“unreasonable searches and seizures.” U.S. Const.
amend. IV; see also 48 U.S.C. § 1561
(“The right to be secure against unreasonable searches
and seizures shall not be violated.”).
“Warrantless searches and seizures are presumptively
unreasonable and are therefore prohibited under the Fourth
Amendment, unless an exception applies.” United
States v. Mundy, 621 F.3d 283, 287 (3d Cir. 2010)
(citing California v. Acevedo, 500 U.S. 565, 580
(1991)). “[U]nder the exception to the warrant
requirement established in Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S.
1, 88 S.Ct. 1868, 20 L.Ed.2d 889 (1968), the Supreme Court
has held that police can stop and briefly detain a person for
investigative purposes if the officer has a reasonable
suspicion supported by articulable facts that criminal
activity may be afoot even if the officer lacks probable
cause.” United States v. Mathurin, 561 F.3d
170, 173-74 (3d Cir. 2009) (internal quotation marks omitted)
(quoting United States v. Sokolow, 490 U.S. 1, 7,
109 S.Ct. 1581(1989)).
Third Circuit has held that “the Terry
reasonable suspicion standard applies to routine traffic
stops” based on suspected traffic offenses. United
States v. Delfin-Colina, 464 F.3d 392, 397 (3d Cir.
2006). As the Supreme Court has found, “in a
traffic-stop setting, the first Terry condition-a
lawful investigatory stop-is met whenever it is lawful for
police to detain an automobile and its occupants pending
inquiry into a vehicular violation.” Arizona v.
Johnson, 555 U.S. 323, 327, 129 S.Ct. 781, 784 (2009).
general rule, the burden of proof is on a defendant who seeks
to suppress evidence. Unites States v. Johnson, 63
F.3d 242, 245 (3d Cir. 1995). However, once the defendant has
established a basis for his motion, such as establishing that
the search or seizure was conducted without a warrant,
“the government bears the burden of showing that each
individual act constituting a search or seizure under the
Fourth Amendment was reasonable.” United States v.
Ritter, 416 F.3d 256, 261 (3d Cir. 2002). The applicable
burden of proof is by a preponderance of the evidence.
United States v. Matlock, 415 U.S. 164, 178 n.14, 94
S.Ct. 988, 996 (1974).
Motion to Suppress the Traffic Stop (Doc. 75)
Greene's first motion seeks to suppress the traffic stop
of the van by Officer Stefanowicz. Mr. Greene argues that
"the seizure of the vehicle was unlawful as it was
conducted without articulable and reasonable suspicion that
criminal activity was afoot." (Doc. 75, at 2). Mr.
Greene believes that Officer Stefanowicz stopped “the
vehicle on an unverified hunch of criminal activity, "
and the failure to use headlights and taillights was a mere
pretext to initiate the stop. (Doc. 76, at 2). Attached to
the m otion is a “Verification in Support of Motion to
Suppress” signed by Mr. Greene, which argues that
“[t]he officer followed the vehicle for far longer than
would have been safe if the headlights and taillights were
not operating.” (Doc. 75-2, at 1).
is well-established that a traffic stop is lawful under the
Fourth Amendment where a police officer observes a violation
of the state traffic regulations.” United States v.
Moorefield, 111 F.3d 10, 12 (3d Cir. 1997). “[A]ny
technical violation of a traffic code legitimizes a stop,
even if the stop is merely pretext for an ...