Court of Appeals of Ohio, Second District, Montgomery
Criminal Appeal from Common Pleas Court Trial Court Case No.
MATHIAS H. HECK, JR., by SARAH E. HUTNIK, Atty., Assistant
Prosecuting Attorney, Montgomery County Prosecutor's
Office, Appellate Division, Montgomery County Courts
Building, Attorney for Plaintiff-Appellee
R. CICERO, Atty., Attorney for Defendant-Appellant
1} Defendant-Appellant, Rodney Powell, appeals from
his conviction and sentence on one count of improper handling
of firearms in a motor vehicle in violation of R.C.
2923.16(B), a fourth-degree felony. After a no-contest plea,
Powell was sentenced to various community control sanctions.
2} Powell contends that the trial court erred by
failing to find that a police stop of his motor vehicle
violated Article I, Section 14 of the Ohio Constitution and
the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution. For
the reasons discussed below, the trial court did not err in
overruling Powell's motion to suppress. Accordingly, the
judgment of the trial court will be affirmed.
Facts and Course of Proceedings
3} On September 2, 2016, a complaint was filed in
Dayton Municipal Court, alleging that Powell had violated
R.C. 2923.16(B) by improperly handing a firearm in a motor
vehicle on September 2, 2016. Powell subsequently waived a
preliminary hearing and agreed to be bound over to the common
pleas court. An indictment was then filed in common pleas
court on October 7, 2016, charging Powell with the above
offense. Powell filed a motion to suppress on November 9,
2016, and the court held a suppression hearing on December
4} At the hearing, the court heard testimony from
Dayton Police Officer, James Campolongo, and from Powell.
Officer Campolongo testified that he was on patrol on
September 2, 2016. He was driving a marked cruiser, was in
the uniform of the day, and was alone in the cruiser.
5} At about 1:40 a.m., Campolongo was driving on
Paul Laurence Dunbar Street, going north towards West
Riverview Avenue, when he saw a blue Dodge truck sitting at a
stop light. The truck was stopped in the right-hand turn
lane, but no turn signal was flashing. As Campolongo
approached closer to the vehicle, a turn signal went on, but
the vehicle did not move; it was still stopped at the light.
When the light turned green, the truck turned right onto West
Riverview, and Campolongo followed the truck. Campolongo then
activated his overhead lights to initiate a traffic stop
based on the fact that the driver did not have his turn
signal on 100 feet prior to a turn.
6} The vehicle was slow to pull over, but stopped on
Ferguson Avenue, which is a little bit north of West
Riverview. Because Campolongo was alone, he used the IPA
system to tell the driver to turn off his car. Before
Campolongo got out of the cruiser, he notified dispatch and
asked for backup. After Campolongo made contact with the
driver (Powell), he had an interaction with Powell that
resulted in a search of the vehicle, during which a firearm
7} Campolongo testified that no other vehicles were
around at the time. He also said that his interpretation of
the ordinance involved (Revised Code of General Ordinances of
the City of Dayton, Ohio ("R.C.G.O.") 71.31), was
that it was subject to traffic conditions at the time and
applied if a failure to signal affected other traffic.
According to Campolongo, he was affected by this failure when
he pulled in behind Powell's truck.
8} Powell testified that he was driving towards his
home when he stopped in a right-turn only lane. He initially
activated his turn signal and made a partial turn of the
wheel, which caused his turn signal to go off. No other
traffic was around. As Powell looked in his rear-view mirror,
he saw a vehicle approaching at a high rate of speed. At that
point, Powell realized his turn signal was off, and he turned
it back on because he did not know if the vehicle was going
to hit him. He indicated he was in a dangerous area, and
people were out celebrating because it was Labor Day weekend.
When the car got closer, Powell realized it was a police car.
Powell then turned right on West Riverview Avenue, and the
officer waited for about a block and half before initiating
the traffic stop.
9} After hearing the evidence, the trial court
overruled the motion to suppress. The court concluded that
the officer had a reasonable, articulable suspicion of
criminal activity based on Powell's failure to comply
with the turn signal requirements. Powell subsequently pled