MA: Collective knowledge of nothing is still nothing, despite stopping officer’s good faith

Collective knowledge here was not reasonable suspicion. Defendant’s vehicle was reportedly involved in a shooting and stopped based on a radio report from Boston PD to another department. Defendant, however, had left the scene of the shooting ten minutes before it happened, and there was no underlying factual basis for the stop. The department that stopped him had a good faith basis, but it was based on nothing. Therefore, the stop has to be suppressed. Commonwealth v. Keene, 2016 Mass. App. LEXIS 36 (March 28, 2016):

The Commonwealth misperceives the nature of the constitutional inquiry. Of course the Boston police officers on the scene responded appropriately to the BOLO. Indeed, we may assume that their response was reasonable given the incorrect information they had been given.

But the question whether there was a constitutional violation, and whether the Fourth Amendment requires the suppression of the evidence seized, requires an examination not only of the actions of the Boston police but of the Stoughton police as well, and not only of the police officers, but of the police dispatchers. In United States v. Hensley, 469 U.S. 221, 105 S. Ct. 675, 83 L. Ed. 2d 604 (1985), the Supreme Court addressed the question whether an officer of a police department may make a Terry-stop in reliance on a “wanted flier” issued by a neighboring police department indicating that the defendant was suspected of robbery. The Court upheld such a stop provided, among other things, that “the police who issued the flier or bulletin possessed a reasonable suspicion justifying a stop.” Id. at 233. “Of course, this requirement is equally applicable where information is transmitted between officers by radio rather than by a wanted flier … ” Commonwealth v. Fraser, 410 Mass. 541, 546, 573 N.E.2d 979 (1991). Here, where the Stoughton police department was not aware of any articulable facts that supported a reasonable suspicion sufficient to warrant a stop of the defendant’s vehicle, that stop violated the Fourth Amendment, and the evidence seized from the vehicle must be suppressed.

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