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United States v. Jones

September 6, 2006

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
v.
MICHAEL JONES DEFENDANT



The opinion of the court was delivered by: District Judge Susan J. Dlott

ORDER DENYING DEFENDANT'S MOTIONS TO SUPPRESS

This matter comes before the Court on Defendant Michael Jones' Motion to Suppress (doc. #18) and Supplemental Motion to Suppress (doc. # 24). The Court held a hearing on the motions on August 30, 2006. For the reasons that follow, the Court DENIES Defendant's motions.

I. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

On March 25, 2006, Officer Thomas Weigand of the Cincinnati Police Department ("CPD") was on duty as a uniformed officer patrolling in a marked police car. While traveling northbound on Victory Parkway, Officer Weigand observed a white Ford Expedition that was traveling southbound cross the double yellow line and veer into his lane. Officer Weigand next observed the Expedition drive over a curb and come to a rest partially on the grass in the 4000 block of Victory Parkway.

Pulling over to investigate the vehicle, Officer Weigand turned on his rear flashing lights to alert oncoming traffic and ran a query of the license plate. The query revealed a warrant for a subject associated with the vehicle; however, the warrant was for an individual other than Jones.

Meanwhile, CPD Officers Reginald Lane and Daphne Law responded to the scene to assist Officer Weigand. Upon arrival, Officer Lane turned on his overhead lights so that they were flashing in a 360 degree rotation. Switching the lights to this setting automatically activated the police cruiser's Mobile Video Recording System ("MVR").*fn1

Accordingly, from that point on, the MVR recorded everything that occurred at the scene, including the officers' statements and any conversations that took place in Officer Lane's vehicle.

In addition to Officers Lane and Law, off-duty CPD Officer Daniel Carter happened to be traveling on Victory Parkway at that time and stopped to assist when he came upon the scene. Recognizing the Expedition, Officer Carter informed the other officers that he had recently stopped the same vehicle on Victory Parkway and that on that occasion he had recovered a firearm from Jones, who was operating the vehicle.

Together, the officers approached the vehicle. Officer Carter recognized the individual in the driver's seat as Jones, the same individual he had previously stopped. When the officers approached, Jones was slumped down in the seat and appeared to be passed out. There were no other occupants in the vehicle and the officers had not observed anyone exit the vehicle.

Officer Weigand knocked on the driver's side window, attempting to wake Jones. The officers eventually woke Jones and asked him to exit the vehicle. Officer Lane immediately smelled a strong odor of alcohol on Jones' breath when Jones exited the Expedition. The officers then observed a loaded silver Smith & Wesson 9mm caliber pistol on the driver's seat where Jones had been sitting. Officer Law seized the weapon.

The officers handcuffed Jones and placed him under arrest for driving under the influence. Officer Weigand conducted a search of Jones' person and discovered approximately 3.24 grams of marijuana and $1,130 in Jones' front, right pocket. The officer also discovered a cell phone but did not seize this item. Meanwhile, Officer Law searched the interior of the Expedition. She recovered approximately 6.57 grams of cocaine base and 2.28 grams of cocaine from the center console. She also found an open bottle of champagne in the back seat.

The officers placed Jones in the backseat of Officer Lane's police cruiser. Initially, Jones was alone in the vehicle. During this time, Jones made a telephone call to an unknown female with his cellular phone, using the speaker phone option because he was handcuffed. While Jones was still on the phone, Officer Lane returned to the police cruiser and advised the Defendant of his Miranda rights. Officer Lane then exited the cruiser, once again leaving Jones alone. At this time, Jones admitted to the unidentified female on the cell phone that he had fallen asleep while driving. Jones also stated that he had recently purchased a new gun. Jones continued his conversation after Officer Lane returned to vehicle and did not conclude the call until the officer directed him to do so. Unbeknownst to Jones, the MVR recorded the conversations he had while seated in the police cruiser.

II. ANALYSIS

Defendant Jones filed two motions to suppress. With the first motion (doc. # 18), Jones seeks to suppress the evidence discovered in the search of his person and the search of the Ford Expedition. With the second supplemental motion (doc. # 24), Jones seeks to suppress the ...


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