Court of Appeals of Ohio, Eighth District, Cuyahoga
Appeal from the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas Case
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT Allison S. Breneman
ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE Michael C. O'Malley Cuyahoga
County Prosecutor Kelly N. Mason Assistant County Prosecutor
BEFORE: Stewart, P.J., Boyle, J., and Laster Mays, J.
JOURNAL ENTRY AND OPINION
J. STEWART, PRESIDING JUDGE
Defendant-appellant Clinton M. Young, III appeals the trial
court's denial of his motion to suppress a firearm and
several baggies of marijuana and pills police discovered
after placing him under arrest. Upon review, we overrule his
sole assigned error and affirm.
The record developed at the suppression hearing reveals that
one evening, a Parma Heights resident called 911 to report
two males breaking glass in an intersection. The caller
stated that the suspects were heading south on Edgehill Drive
towards the intersection where Edgehill merges into Pearl
Road, and that one of them was on a bicycle. Two police
officers, in separate patrol cars, responded to the scene.
The officers arrived to the vicinity within minutes of being
dispatched. The first officer came upon Young, who was riding
a bicycle on the sidewalk, heading south on Pearl Road near
Edgehill Drive. He relayed this information to the second
officer and continued to search for additional suspects. The
second officer saw Young on his bicycle, immediately turned
his cruiser around, and activated his lights. Young stopped.
The other officer arrived shortly thereafter and they
questioned Young about what he was doing and if he knew about
the broken glass. They asked Young if they could see his
identification and Young complied. The officers ran
Young's information through dispatch and were alerted to
the fact that Young had an active warrant. After arresting
Young, police discovered the firearm and contraband. Young
moved to suppress the items arguing that the police did not
have a right to stop him. The trial court denied his motion.
"Appellate review of a motion to suppress presents a
mixed question of law and fact." State v.
Burnside, 100 Ohio St.3d 152, 2003-Ohio-5372, 797 N.E.2d
71, ¶ 8. Because the trial court is in the best position
to resolve issues of fact, we defer to its findings, so long
as they are supported by competent, credible evidence.
Id. Accepting those facts as true, and without
deference to the trial court, we independently determine
whether those facts satisfy the applicable legal standard.
The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution
prohibits warrantless searches and seizures as per se
unreasonable, subject to a few exceptions. Katz v. United
States, 389 U.S. 347, 357, 88 S.Ct. 507, 19 L.Ed.2d 576
(1967). Any evidence obtained in violation of the Fourth
Amendment may not then be used by the state against an
accused at trial. Mapp v. Ohio, 367 U.S. 643, 655,
81 S.Ct. 1684, 6 L.Ed.2d 1081 (1961). An investigatory stop
is considered a "seizure" within the context of the
Fourth Amendment when a person is detained, to the extent
that a reasonable person would not feel free to leave.
State v. Raine, 8th Dist. Cuyahoga No. 90681,
2008-Ohio-5993, ¶ 18, citing United States v.
Montgomery, 377 F.3d 582, 587-588 (6th Cir.2004).
An investigative or "Terry" stop, where an
officer briefly detains a person based on a reasonable
suspicion that the person may be involved in criminal
activity, is one exception to the general prohibition to
warrantless searches and seizures. See Terry v.
Ohio, 392 U.S. 1, 88 S.Ct. 1868, 20 L.Ed.2d 889 (1968).
Such stops, when predicated on reasonable suspicion and
conducted for investigative purposes, do not run afoul of the
Constitution. Hiibel v. Sixth Judicial Dist. Court,
542 U.S. 177, 185, 124 S.Ct. 2451, 159 L.Ed.2d 292 (2004).
Reasonable suspicion may be based on information that is less
reliable than what is required to establish probable cause.
Alabama v. White, 496 U.S. 325, 330, 110 S.Ct. 2412,
110 L.Ed.2d 301 (1990). However, it requires "at least a
minimal level of objective justification." Illinois
v. Wardlow, 528 U.S. 119, 121, 120 S.Ct. 673, 145
L.Ed.2d 570 (2000).
A Terry stop is valid where the officer's
reasonable suspicion is based on specific and articulable
facts that the individual in question is, was, or soon will
be engaged in criminal activity. State v. Arafat,
8th Dist. Cuyahoga No. 102662, 2016-Ohio-385, ¶ 20.
During the stop, police "may ask the detainee a moderate
number of questions to determine his identity * * *."
Berkemer v. McCarty, 468 U.S. 420, 439, 104 S.Ct.
3138, 82 L.Ed.2d 317 (1984). The detainee, however, is under
no obligation to respond. Id. And if the
detainee's answers do not give the officer probable cause
to arrest him, then the police must release him. Id.
Consensual encounters with the police are not subject to
Fourth Amendment protections. State v. White, 8th
Dist. Cuyahoga No. 92229, 2009-Ohio-5557, ¶ 9. During a
consensual encounter, police officers need not articulate any
reasonable suspicion. Id. They may engage in
conversation, ask questions, and check identification.
Id. "'A person is seized within the
contemplation of the Fourth Amendment only if, in view of all
of the circumstances surrounding the incident, a reasonable
person would have believed that he was not free to
leave.'" State v. Miller, 148 Ohio App.3d
103, 2002-Ohio-2389, 772 N.E.2d 175, ¶ 18 (8th Dist),
quoting State v. Bussey, 8th Dist. Cuyahoga No.
75301, 1999 Ohio App. LEXIS 5707, 4 (Dec. 2, 1999). Where a
person does not attempt to leave, a seizure may still be
implicated by the presence of multiple officers, drawn
weapons, physical touching, or language and tone indicating
that compliance is required. See United States v.
Mendenhall, 446 U.S. 544, 554, 100 S.Ct. 1870, 64
L.Ed.2d 497 (1980).
Young argues that the officers' request for his
identification was unnecessary to their investigation of the
broken glass and was only done as a means of checking for
warrants. He argues that he could not, and did not,
voluntarily provide his identification to the police because
at the point the officers ...