Court of Appeals of Ohio, Twelfth District, Fayette
CRIMINAL APPEAL FROM FAYETTE COUNTY COURT OF COMMON PLEAS
Case No. CRI20160145
C. Weade, Fayette County Prosecuting Attorney, John M. Scott,
Jr., for plaintiff-appellee.
H. Eckstein, for defendant-appellant.
1} Defendant-appellant, Justin Hawkins, appeals from
his conviction for the failure to comply with an order or
signal of a police officer, arguing the Fayette County Court
of Common Pleas erred when it denied his motion to suppress.
For the reasons stated below, we affirm the trial court's
denial of appellant's motion to suppress and uphold his
2} At approximately 3:00 a.m. on May 20, 2016,
Patrolman Jeffery Heinz, a 14- year veteran police officer
with the city of Washington Court House, was finishing up a
traffic stop on Draper Street when a black GMC SUV driven by
appellant passed his patrol car. Heinz's onboard license
plate reader captured the license plate of the vehicle, and
Heinz ran the license plate number through dispatch to obtain
the vehicle's registration information. Heinz was advised
that the license plate was registered to a 2001
white GMC SUV. Heinz quickly concluded his original
traffic stop before locating the black GMC SUV and pulling it
over. Heinz initiated the traffic stop of the SUV because he
was concerned that the vehicle might have been stolen or had
a "fictitious registration."
3} After stopping the SUV, Heinz explained to
appellant that the color discrepancy was the reason for the
stop and asked appellant for his license, registration, and
proof of insurance. Appellant did not have any identification
on him. While obtaining appellant's personal information,
Heinz was able to verify the last six numbers of the
GMC's VIN by providing the numbers to dispatch, who
verified that the numbers matched the records of the Bureau
of Motor Vehicles ("BMV").
4} Heinz returned to his patrol car to write
appellant a warning and to run the social security number
appellant provided. The social security number belonged to a
different individual. Heinz again approached appellant's
vehicle and verified appellant's name, date of birth, and
his social security number. Although Heinz instructed
appellant to "sit tight" while Heinz ran the second
social security number, appellant began to slowly drive away.
Heinz followed in his patrol car.
5} While Heinz followed appellant's vehicle, he
ran the second social security number provided by appellant.
This number also belonged to someone other than appellant.
Heinz then ran appellant's name and date of birth through
dispatch. He was advised that appellant did not have a valid
driver's license and had a warrant for his arrest out of
Delaware County. Heinz activated his patrol car's lights
and sirens, and appellant pulled over the SUV he was
operating. However, after Heinz informed appellant there was
a warrant out for his arrest, appellant "gunned the
engine and took off at a rapid rate." Heinz called for
assistance and set off in pursuit of appellant, with his
vehicle's lights and sirens activated.
6} After nearly hitting a police cruiser, appellant
veered off the road and drove through yards before striking a
bush or a small tree. Appellant then abandoned his vehicle
and fled on foot. He was apprehended by Heinz and arrested.
Appellant's vehicle was inventoried, and two credit cards
were found in the glovebox of the SUV. The credit cards were
not in appellant's name and had previously been reported
7} On June 3, 2016, appellant was indicted on two
counts of receiving stolen property in violation of R.C.
2913.51(A) and (C), felonies of the fifth degree, and one
count of failing to comply with an order or signal of a
police officer in violation of R.C. 2921.331(B) and
(C)(5)(a)(ii), a felony of the third degree as
appellant's operation of the motor vehicle caused a
substantial risk of serious physical harm to persons or
property. Appellant moved to suppress all evidence relating
to his traffic stop on the basis that Heinz "lacked
reasonable and articulable suspicion to make an investigatory
stop." Appellant contended the "mismatch"
between the SUV's color and the color listed on the
vehicle's registration did not provide reasonable
suspicion to justify the stop.
8} The only witness to testify at the hearing on
appellant's motion was Heinz, who testified as follows
regarding the traffic stop:
[Prosecutor]: What if any concern to you have that a plate
[sic], cause it sounds like it matched the type of vehicle,
but it didn't match the color of the vehicle. What reason
would you have for any concern?
Heinz: Yeah typically with my, with my experience when
subjects will steal a vehicle and that is why BMV started
implementing the colors is, in years past somebody would
steal a vehicle.
In years past, with my experience, if someone would steal a
vehicle, they would just go through a parking lot anywhere
and find a vehicle that would match the vehicle in which they
were driving. Throw ...