E.D.Okla.: Search of vehicle on roadside not unreasonable because it started as a proper inventory

Defendant was stopped for his tag light being out, and it resulted in finding that his DL was suspended. That meant that his vehicle would be towed. The inventory by all appearances was starting, because a video showed the inventory form in the hands of one of the officers, and a gun was found in the first opening of the trunk. United States v. Killblane, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 184506 (E.D.Okla. Oct. 9, 2015), adopted, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 184461 (E.D. Okla. Nov. 3, 2015). [Note: This case ultimately decides that a proper inventory would have occurred so the gun was essentially inevitably found. Here, I’ll credit that it would have been done correctly because the appearances were that the officers took inventory seriously. They had the form in hand, and it is not improper to inventory at the scene and not follow the vehicle to impound. I’ve seen, however, usually they don’t even bother with a form. They just call it inventory because they know that courts will often give them cover for that. Defense counsel should never concede that a valid inventory would follow because too many police departments trivialize inventory as a Fourth Amendment rights nullifier where the Fourth Amendment ceases to apply to a vehicle as long as they can get “inventory” out of their mouth or on paper. It’s not that simple, but those ill-trained officers, prosecutors, and judges don’t know it.]

The police had reasonable suspicion to stop defendant when he was first approached, but a seizure didn’t occur until defendant was actually handcuffed. The officer may have believed that defendant wasn’t free to leave, but it wasn’t objectively communicated to defendant until he was actually seized by the handcuffing. United States v. Serrano, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 184588 (S.D.N.Y. July 20, 2015).*

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