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State v. Powell

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Second District, Montgomery

March 30, 2018

STATE OF OHIO Plaintiff-Appellee
v.
RODNEY L. POWELL Defendant-Appellant

          Criminal Appeal from Common Pleas Court Trial Court Case No. 2016-CR-2746

          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

          LORI R. CICERO, Atty., Attorney for Defendant-Appellant

          OPINION

          WELBAUM, P.J.

         {¶ 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.

         I. 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 16, 2016.

         {¶ 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 was discovered.

         {¶ 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 no ...


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