from the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas (C.P.C. No.
O'Brien, Prosecuting Attorney, and Michael P. Walton.
Michael P. Walton.
1} Plaintiff-appellant, the State of Ohio, appeals
from a Franklin County Court of Common Pleas decision
granting the motions to suppress filed by defendant-appellee,
Frederick D. Drake ("Drake"). For the following
reasons, we reverse the judgment of the trial court.
FACTS AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
2} A Franklin County Grand Jury indicted Drake with
one count of improperly handling firearms in a motor vehicle,
in violation of R.C. 2923.16. Drake entered a plea of not
guilty and filed two motions to suppress, seeking to exclude
both a recovered firearm and his statements to the officers.
3} The trial court held an evidentiary hearing. The
state called two police officers to testify: John D. Narewski
and Kevin George. Officer Narewski testified that, while on
patrol on September 3, 2014, he and Officer George were
driving to check the parking lot of the Prime Ultra Lounge
because there had been numerous arrests in the past. It was
routine for them to check the area on Wednesday evenings
because the bar was usually very crowded due to a special on
chicken wings. As the officers approached the parking lot,
Officer Narewski noticed two males sitting in a black Chevy
Tahoe. Officer Narewski later identified Drake as the one in
the driver's seat. The officers parked on the street. As
they exited the cruiser, the individuals walked towards the
bar entrance. Officer George testified that they walked
"quickly, hurriedly" which drew his attention to
them. (Sept. 23, 2015 Tr. at 56.) Officer Narewski stated
that Drake began to return to the Tahoe but then Officers
Brammer and Baase arrived in a marked cruiser and Drake
"did an about-face and walked directly back towards the
bar, kept looking over his shoulder at the other [Columbus
Police Department] cruiser on the lot." (Tr. at 13.)
4} Officer Narewski walked over to the Tahoe and
could "smell a strong odor of burnt marijuana coming
from the motor vehicle." Id. The officer looked
in the driver's side window of the Tahoe, and
"observed a digital scale with a bag of marijuana
sitting atop the cup holder located by the center
5} At that point, the officers walked to the front
of the bar where Drake was standing and asked the two men to
return to the Tahoe. Drake asked "why" and Officer
Narewski informed him what he observed in the vehicle. (Tr.
at 14.) When they returned to the vehicle, Officer Narewski
informed Drake he was going to pat him down for weapons. As
he was conducting the pat down, Drake "blurted out, hey,
I don't have anything on me other than a bag of
marijuana" and Officer Narewski recovered a bag of
marijuana and the keys to the Chevy Tahoe in Drake's
front right pants pocket. (Tr. at 15.) When asked why Officer
Narewski searched Drake, he responded:
Basically, his statement that he had the marijuana on him.
Usually, because of the drugs in the car, we believed there
could possibly be weapons. I conducted a pat-down of his
person for weapons. During that pat-down, ...