United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania
FINDINGS OF FACT AND CONCLUSIONS OF LAW
Flowers Conti, Senior United States District Judge.
Derek Reddix (“Reddix”) filed a motion (ECF No.
51) seeking to: (1) suppress evidence obtained from a contact
with law enforcement officers on February 23, 2018; (2)
suppress his statements that he dropped a cell phone during
his flight; and (3) obtain a “Franks hearing”
regarding a subsequent affidavit in support of a search
warrant for two cell phones. The government filed an omnibus
response in opposition to the motion (ECF No. 53). On June
19, 2019, the court held an evidentiary hearing. (Transcript,
ECF No. 55). The parties were permitted to file simultaneous
proposed findings of fact and conclusions of law. After
several requests for extensions of time by counsel for
Reddix, the parties filed their post-hearing submissions on
October 11, 2018. (ECF Nos. 64, 65). The government filed its
response in opposition to the request for a Franks hearing on
November 8, 2019. The motion is ripe for disposition.
Factual and Procedural Background
is charged in a one-count indictment at Criminal No. 18-63
with possession of a firearm by a convicted felon on February
23, 2018, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1). Reddix
contends that the initial warrantless stop on February 23,
2018 was without reasonable suspicion or probable cause
because officers could not have seen a gun from where they
were located and he was “seized” when he stopped
at the officers' command, before running away. Reddix
contends that the gun and cell phones recovered after he
fled, any statements made by him, and the subsequent search
warrant for the contents of the cell phones should be
suppressed as fruits of the illegal seizure.
Pittsburgh Police Lieutenant Arthur Baker (“Lt.
Baker”) and Detective (now Sergeant) Harrison Maddox
(“Det. Maddox”) testified at the hearing. Lt.
Baker and Det. Maddox offered credible testimony.
defense called investigator Kevin Parente
(“Parente”) as a witness. Parente offered
February 23, 2018, Lt. Baker, Sergeant Andrew Baker
(“Sgt. Baker”) and Det. Maddox were patrolling
the Homewood neighborhood of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in a
marked police car as part of a violent crime response effort
in Zone 5 prompted by 26 shootings in the prior four months.
Tr. 15, 17.
targeted enforcement effort sought to identify the
individuals believed to be causing the violence. As part of
the violence prevention initiative, Det. Maddox prepared an
intel packet containing the photographs and criminal
histories of those individuals. Tr. at 81; Govt. Ex. 10.
Maddox included Reddix in the intel packet because homicide
detectives identified Reddix as a possible witness or actor
in a homicide in October 2017. Tr. at 26, 82. Reddix's
criminal history showed that he was on release for two
pending state gun charges. Tr. at 81-82.
Baker explained that prior to doing a violent crime response
operation, the officers have a daily briefing at which they
go over pictures, locations and a plan of action. Tr. 27.
February 23, 2018, the officers were not specifically looking
for Reddix. Tr. 74.
approximately 4:25 p.m. on February 23, 2018, Lt. Baker, Sgt.
Baker and Det. Maddox were in a marked police car driving on
the 7500 block of Formosa Way in Homewood. Lt. Baker was
driving; Sgt. Baker was in the front passenger seat; and Det.
Maddox was in the back seat behind the driver. Tr. 78.
Baker and Sgt. Baker were in full uniform. Det. Maddox was
wearing khakis and a shirt and displayed a police badge
around his neck. Tr. 62.
weather was cloudy, but visibility was clear. Tr. 22, 62. It
had rained earlier that day, but it was not raining at the
time of the incident. Tr. 54.
he drove on Formosa Way, Lt. Kelly looked between buildings
and observed an individual in a courtyard area, at the rear
of houses whose fronts were on a parallel road, 7586 and 7588
Kelly Street. Tr. 23.
house at 7588 Kelly Street was longer and extended further
into the rear courtyard area than the house at 7586 Kelly
Street. The individual was not in the narrow alley between
the houses. Instead, he was in the rear courtyard area behind
7586 Kelly Street and beside 7588 Kelly Street. Tr. 31.
Baker estimated that the distance from him to the individual
was 60 feet. Det. Maddox, who also saw the individual,
estimated the distance at approximately 50 or 60 feet.
Parente paced the distance and estimated it at 70 feet.
Parente later measured the distance from Formosa Way to the
back of the house at 7586 Kelly Street at 100 feet. Tr. 48,
83, 113, 137-39, 142.
court finds that the variations between the distances
estimated by the officers and the distance measured by
Parente does not lessen the credibility of the officers'
testimony. Even if Reddix was 100 feet away, the officers
could have made the observations about Reddix's behavior
to which they testified.
Baker observed the individual manipulating an object in his
waistband with his hand. Lt. Baker could not see the object,
but based on his training and experience he believed it was a
firearm. He pulled the car to the curb. Tr. 23-24. Det.
Maddox did not see a firearm, but also believed the
individual was adjusting a firearm in front of his waist. Tr.
According to Lt. Baker, the individual looked up and saw the
police car, froze and gave a panic-stricken look. While he
referred to a panic-stricken look, which he would not likely
have seen at that distance, Lt. Baker clarified that the
individual stopped what he was doing and looked at him. Tr.
Baker explained that based upon his experience, he was
“pretty sure” the individual had a firearm based
on his actions and reaction to the police presence. The
individual manipulated an object in his waistband, looked
over and saw the police, stopped moving and totally froze,
and stared at them. Tr. 57-58. Lt. Baker testified that his
suspicion was not based on the individual's facial
expression. Tr. 59.
According to Det. Maddox, when the individual made eye
contact with Lt. Baker, he totally changed his body posture
and behavior. Tr. 102.
Baker told the other officers: “get out of the car; the
guy's got a gun; he's going to run.” Tr. 24-25.
the time, Lt. Baker did not know who the individual was. Tr.
25. No. other people were in sight. Tr. 64.
Det. Maddox observed the individual and immediately thought
it might be Reddix, on whom he had done a workup. The facial
characteristics were similar, but his appearance was
drastically changed because Reddix used to have very long
dreadlocks. Tr. 80. The individual's facial hair differed
as well. Tr. 105. Det. Maddox was not 100% certain, but knew
the individual looked similar to Reddix. Tr. 106. Once Det.
Maddox saw him, he thought it was Reddix. Tr. 132.
Sgt. Baker and Det. Maddox quickly got out of the car. Both
were armed. Tr. 62. The individual took a step to the left,
took another step, and ...