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United States v. Kirkland

United States District Court, N.D. Ohio

January 15, 2020

UNITED STATES, Plaintiff,
v.
JARON R. KIRKLAND, Defendant.

          OPINION & ORDER [Resolving Docs. 15, 18]

          JAMES S. GWIN, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         On August 28, 2019, the grand jury indicted Defendant on one count of Felon in Possession of Firearm and Ammunition, 18 U.S.C. §§ 922(g)(1), 924(a)(2).[1] On October 1, 2019, Defendant filed a motion to suppress identification evidence.[2] The Government opposed.[3]

         On October 24, 2019, the Court held a hearing on the motion.[4] The Court denied Defendant's motion. The Court stated that it would file an opinion discussing the Court's reasoning.[5]

         I. Background [6]

         On May 31, 2019, near 9:00 P.M., a citizen was in his car when an individual approached his window. The individual asked for a cigarette, and the citizen replied that he did not have one. The two exchanged heated words, then the individual pulled out a firearm and pointed it at the citizen. The citizen drove away and called the police.

         Akron Police Department's (“APD's”) Officer Siegferth and his partner responded to the call. Dispatch described the suspect as a black male in his 30s wearing dark clothing. While driving to the scene, Siegferth observed a man matching this description walking down a nearby street. Siegferth testified that there was adequate light to accurately see the man and that no one else was walking in the vicinity.

         After arriving at the scene and not seeing a suspect, Siegferth drove back to where he had seen the man walking down the street. He found Defendant Kirkland less than two blocks away from the location where the firearm had been brandished.

         As the officers approached, the officers saw Defendant throw an object into a bush. The officers retrieved a firearm from the bush location and arrested Defendant. Officer Siegferth described the Defendant as wearing a dark sweatshirt and dark sweatpants.

         Separately, Akron Police Department Officer Sebastian and Sebastian's partner drove to the citizen-complainant's home and asked the complainant to come with them for a possible identification. Sebastian instructed the complainant to “tell us yes or no” during the identification.

         Police Officer Sebastian drove the complainant to Kirkland's arrest scene and stopped his car 30 or 40 feet away from Police Officer Siegferth's police cruiser. The complainant sat in the back of Sebastian's car. Police Officer Siegferth's partner removed Defendant Kirkland from the police cruiser. Siegferth and his partner stood next to Defendant and Sebastian illuminated Defendant with his car's lights. Defendant was handcuffed.

         Police Officer Sebastian asked the complainant, “Is that him?” The complainant confirmed the identification. Sebastian asked him a second time and the complainant again responded with a positive identification. In a later interview, the complainant stated that he was 80% confident that Defendant was the individual who threatened him with a firearm.

         Police Officer Siegferth testified that the complainant identified Defendant 20 minutes after Siegferth arrested him.

         II. Discussion

         Defendant argues that the “show-up identification was impermissibly suggestive, and violated his Fifth ...


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