Friday, December 08, 2006

No reasonable suspicion

Will B. Wohlford and Ryan M. Peck from Morris Laing won in State v. Parker, No. 92,541 (Kan. Dec. 8, 2006), reversing a Sedgwick County possession conviction. The KSC held that the COA had improperly found reasonable suspicion to support an investigatory detention:

To determine whether Parker was illegally detained, we must consider whether the officers had reasonable suspicion to believe that Parker had committed, was committing, or was about to commit a crime when Hoover was arrested. At that point, the officers knew that three black men were sitting in a garage in a predominantly black community. It was mid-morning, and no one had reported any illegal activity. Officer Bachmann, who had patrolled the area for approximately 23 years, did not recognize the men in the garage as criminals or gang members. He drove up to the garage because he was curious about whether the men lived in the apartments. As Officer Bachmann drove up, Hoover looked surprised, stood up, stuffed something in his pocket, and then began picking money up from the concrete floor. Another unidentified man got up and went into a nearby apartment before Hoover and Parker approached Officer Bachmann's car and entered into a conversation with him. In response to Officer Bachmann's request, both men voluntarily raised their shirts to demonstrate that neither of them was carrying a weapon. We conclude that this evidence is insufficient to establish a reasonable suspicion that Parker had committed, was committing, or was about to commit a crime. Consequently, we hold that Parker was illegally detained at the time when Officer Bachmann asked Parker if he could check him for any contraband or drugs.
The KSC also rejected the state's claim that later consent purged the illegality. Justices Beier, Allegrucci, and Lockett would have gone even further and joined with Judge Caplinger's COA dissent holding that the encounter became an investigatory detention as soon as the officer's directed the suspects to lift their shirts.

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