from the Judgment of Sentence Entered August 1, 2017 In the
Court of Common Pleas of Bucks County Criminal Division at
BEFORE: OTT, J., McLAUGHLIN, J., and STEVENS [*] , P.J.E.
Butler appeals from the judgment of sentence entered on
August 1, 2017, after the trial court found him guilty of
conspiracy, possession with intent to deliver
("PWID"), possession of a controlled substance, and
possession of drug paraphernalia. Butler contends that the
trial court erred in denying his motion to suppress because
there was no reasonable suspicion to conduct an investigative
detention. We affirm.
31, 2017, Butler filed a suppression motion with the trial
court, arguing that Officer Ronald Rosenberg lacked "a
reasonable cause, probable cause, reasonable suspicion, or
necessary legal authority" to stop his vehicle. N.T.,
Suppression Hearing, 7/31/17, at 4. The following testimony
was adduced at the Suppression Hearing.
18, 2016, Officer Rosenberg was on patrol with the Richland
Township Police Department. Id. at 7. At the time,
Officer Rosenberg had been with the department for 11 years
and had been a narcotics officer for 6 years. Id. at
8. In order to obtain this position, he attended Bucks County
Narcotics School, where he learned about subjects such as
drug investigation, confidential informants, and undercover
work. Id. at 7. Officer Rosenberg has made
approximately 50 arrests involving possession with intent to
deliver. Id. at 8.
Rosenberg received a phone call on the day in question, July
18, 2016, from Gary Bulicki. Id. Officer Rosenberg
did not know Bulicki personally but generally knew that
Bulicki was in the police department "system."
Id. at 15, 16, 20. Officer Rosenberg did not know
whether Bulicki was known to the system as a victim or a
defendant. Id. at 20. Officer Rosenberg said he
looked into Bulicki's status with the department
"after it was done," but did not state the
information (if any) that he found. Id.
told Officer Rosenberg that he was going to drive his son,
Vincent Bulicki, to the area of the Walmart on Sunshine Drive
in Quakertown, Bucks County, to purchase heroin from two
black males known as "Pops" and "Old
Head." Id. at 9, 18. He stated that the males
would be in a black Tahoe. Id. at 9. Bulicki gave
Officer Rosenberg a physical description of his son as well
as of what his son would be wearing. Id. at 10, 18,
19. Bulicki told Officer Rosenberg that he had received the
information about the individuals, the vehicle, and the
narcotics transaction from his son, Vincent. Id. at
17. He also said that he previously had driven his son to buy
narcotics from the males but he did not say how many times.
stayed in touch with Officer Rosenberg for two hours.
Id. at 19. At around 12 p.m. the same day, Bulicki
dropped Vincent off near the Walmart. Id. at 10. An
undercover officer nearby relayed to Officer Rosenberg that
Vincent entered a black Tahoe. Id. at 23. Based on
his observations, the information he received, and his
experience, Officer Rosenberg believed that a narcotics
transaction was occurring in the Tahoe. Id. at 11.
Officer Rosenberg went to the area of Sunshine Drive where he
activated his vehicle's overhead lights, pulled up behind
the Tahoe, and approached the driver's side of the Tahoe.
Id. While approaching the vehicle, he observed
Butler in the front passenger seat bending down and reaching
between his legs as though he was either grabbing or hiding
something. Id. at 11-12. Vincent was in the back
seat, behind Butler. Id. at 12. Officer Rosenberg
directed his partner, Officer Zachary Herb, to remove Butler
from the vehicle. Id. Officer Rosenberg then patted
Butler down, recovering three Percocets in a little plastic
bag in the small pocket of his pants. Id. at 14-15,
hearing the testimony, the trial court denied the suppression
motion. On August 1, 2017, after a bench trial, the court
found Butler guilty of the above-referenced crimes and
sentenced him to two and one half to five years'
incarceration for PWID and no further penalty for the
remaining charges. Butler filed a post-sentence motion, which
the trial court denied. This timely appeal followed.
raises one issue for this Court to review: "Was there
sufficient evidence that the vehicle was involved in criminal
activity to justify an investigative detention?"
Butler's Br. at 4.
standard of review for a challenge to the denial of a
suppression motion is "limited to determining whether
the suppression court's factual findings are supported by
the record and whether the legal conclusions drawn from those
facts are correct." Commonwealth v. Jones, 988
A.2d 649, 654 (Pa. 2010). Since the Commonwealth prevailed at
the suppression motion hearing "we may consider only the
evidence of the Commonwealth and so much of the evidence for
the defense as remains uncontradicted when read in the
context of the record as a whole." Id. Because
Butler's challenge to the denial of his suppression
motion raises a question of law, our scope of review is
parties here agree that the vehicle stop constituted an
investigative detention, which requires reasonable suspicion
that criminal activity is afoot. Commonwealth v.
Jones, 874 A.2d 108, 116 (Pa.Super. 2005).
"Reasonable suspicion is a less demanding standard than
probable cause . . . in the sense that reasonable suspicion
can arise from information that is less reliable than that
required to show probable cause." Commonwealth v.
Moore, 805 A.2d 616, 620 (Pa.Super. 2002)(citation
omitted). An investigative detention is justified where
"a police officer [is] able to point to 'specific
and articulable facts' leading him to suspect criminal
activity is afoot." Commonwealth v. Brown, 996
A.2d 473, 477 (Pa. 2010) (citations omitted). In assessing
whether the officer had reasonable suspicion, we take into
account the totality of the circumstances and give due weight
"to the specific, reasonable inferences drawn from the
facts in light of the officer's experience."
an informant "identifies [him-] or herself to police,
there is a degree of reliability attached to the tip, because
the informant has placed [him-] or herself at risk for
prosecution for giving false information to the police if the
tip is untrue." See Commonwealth v. Hayward,
756 A.2d 23, 34 (Pa.Super. 2000)(citation omitted). In
contrast, the word of an anonymous informer who has never
previously cooperated with the police or "who does
not disclose his or her identity to the police"
lacks such indicia of reliability. Id. at 35
(emphasis added). Information from a known source that police