Court of Appeals of Ohio, Eleventh District, Lake
Criminal Appeal from the Mentor Municipal Court, Case No.
2018 TRC 02711 AB. Judgment:
M. Klammer, City of Mentor Prosecutor, (For
Gregory A. Gentile, Gentile Law, LLC, (For
JANE TRAPP, J.
Appellant, Scott W. Everett ("Mr. Everett"),
appeals from the judgment of the Mentor Municipal Court
convicting him of OVI and failure to control following his no
contest plea. He argues the trial court erred in denying his
motion to suppress evidence obtained following (1) his
unlawful arrest without probable cause, and (2) his placement
in custody without Miranda warnings.
We find that (1) under the totality of the circumstances, the
officers' actions in this case did not exceed the bounds
of a lawful investigative detention, (2) Officer Jacob's
questioning of Mr. Everett and the administration of field
sobriety tests did not constitute custodial interrogation,
and (3) Mr. Everett's statements and the results of his
field sobriety tests did not constitute self-incriminating
For the reasons that follow, we affirm the judgment of the
Mentor Municipal Court.
and Procedural History
On August 10, 2018, at approximately 10:19 p.m., Mentor
Police Officer Matthew Jacob ("Officer Jacob")
received a call from dispatch indicating that a vehicle had
crashed into a building on Station Street in Mentor, Ohio.
Other officers were also en route based on the seriousness of
the dispatch report. Upon arrival at the scene, a witness
pointed Officer Jacob in the direction of the crashed
Officer Jacob observed a Chevy Impala pinned up against a
tree and the building at Lintern Corp. The business was
closed for the evening, so there was no legitimate reason for
a vehicle to be present in the area. Based on his
observations of tire tracks and damage to landscaping,
Officer Jacob concluded the vehicle had pulled into the
driveway of Lintern Corp., veered off to the left side of the
driveway, crossed over some grass and bushes, and became
pinned. The vehicle sustained damage to its front.
When Officer Jacob approached the vehicle in his cruiser, he
heard the vehicle's engine revving. He exited his police
cruiser, stood near the passenger side door of the vehicle,
and ordered the driver and sole occupant, Mr. Everett, to
turn off the engine and exit. After Mr. Everett exited the
vehicle, Officer Jacob ordered him to put his hands up, come
toward Officer Jacob, face his vehicle, place his hands
behind his back, and interlace his fingers. Officer Jacob
testified that this entire interaction lasted approximately
Although Mr. Everett complied with Officer Jacob's
directives, Officer Jacob had to repeat himself three times
before Mr. Everett complied with his orders to exit the
vehicle, to come toward Officer Jacob, and interlace his
fingers. According to Officer Jacob, Mr. Everett had a
"blank stare" and "confused look" on his
face during the encounter.
Following this interaction, Officer Jacob handcuffed Mr.
Everett. Based on Mr. Everett's previous revving of the
engine, Officer Jacob was concerned Mr. Everett was going to
flee. Officer Jacob did not tell Mr. Everett that he was
under arrest, and he testified that he did not consider Mr.
Everett to be under arrest at that time.
Patrolman Louzias was present when Officer Jacob handcuffed
Mr. Everett. Eventually, there were at least five other
police officers on the scene, although it is not clear from
the record when they all arrived.
Officer Jacob instructed Patrolman Louzias to take Mr.
Everett to Officer Jacob's car and "search
him." Mr. Everett was placed in the back seat of a
police cruiser where officers patted him down, searched his
front pockets, and searched his belt/waist area. It is not
clear from the record who placed Mr. Everett in the back seat
of the police cruiser or who conducted the search. The
officers did not find anything in Mr. Everett's pockets.
While Mr. Everett was being placed in the back of the police
cruiser and searched, Officer Jacob secured the scene by
ensuring the vehicle was turned off and in park and by
confirming there was no structural damage to the building.
Officer Jacob obtained and ran Mr. Everett's license
Approximately two minutes after Mr. Everett was placed in the
back of the police cruiser, Officer Jacob approached him and
asked several questions, including if he was all right, if he
had any injuries, his name, where he was coming from, whether
he had anything to drink, and whether he had used any drugs.
Observing a bloody scrape on Mr. Everett's knee, Officer
Jacob asked him whether he wanted an ambulance, which Mr.
During this questioning, Officer Jacob noticed a strong odor
of alcohol on Mr. Everett's breath and observed that Mr.
Everett had bloodshot, glassy eyes and slurred speech. Based
on these observations, Officer Jacob asked Mr. Everett if he
was willing to perform field sobriety tests. Officer Jacob
told Mr. Everett that if he did not want to do the field
tests, he would "just leave the cuffs on."
After Mr. Everett performed and failed the field sobriety
tests, Officer Jacob advised him he was under arrest,
handcuffed him again, and read him his Miranda
Mr. Everett was cited for operating a vehicle under the
influence of alcohol or drugs pursuant to R.C. 4511.19(A)
("OVI") and operation without being in reasonable
control of vehicle pursuant to R.C. 4511.202. He was
arraigned in Mentor Municipal Court and entered not guilty
pleas to the charged offenses.
Mr. Everett subsequently filed a motion to suppress evidence
alleging an unlawful arrest and a violation of his
Miranda rights. The trial court held an oral hearing
on the motion, and Officer Jacob was the sole witness.
The trial court denied Mr. Everett's motion to suppress,
finding reasonable suspicion based on specific, articulable
facts that Mr. Everett was violating a law, based on Mr.
Everett's presence in the driver's seat of a vehicle
that had crashed into the side of a building, and finding
probable cause to arrest based on the signs of intoxication
and the results of the field sobriety tests.
Mr. Everett entered a no contest plea to the OVI offense, and
the trial court imposed sentence, which was stayed pending
Mr. Everett now appeals, raising the following two
assignments of error:
"[1.] The trial court erred in overruling
appellant's motion to suppress evidence arising from
appellant's unlawful arrest without probable cause.
"[2.] The trial court erred in overruling
appellant's motion to suppress evidence of statements
made after appellant was placed in custody and not provided
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, ¶8. When considering a
motion to suppress, the trial court assumes the role of trier
of fact and is therefore in the best position to resolve
factual questions and evaluate the credibility of witnesses.
Id., citing State v. Mills, 62 Ohio St.3d
357, 366 (1992). Consequently, an appellate court must accept
the trial court's findings of fact if they are supported
by competent, credible evidence. Id., citing
State v. Fanning, 1 Ohio St.3d 19, 20 (1982). The
appellate court must then independently determine, without
deference to the conclusions of the trial court, whether the
facts satisfy the applicable legal standard. Id.,
citing State v. McNamara, 124 Ohio App.3d 706, 707
In this case, Mr. Everett is not challenging the trial
court's finding of facts, only its application of those