D.N.M.: Officers did not have reason to believe defendant was the person named in his arrest warrant when they detained him; arrest suppressed

The US Marshals did not have a reasonable articulable basis that defendant was the person named in their arrest warrant at the time they detained him on it, and the product of the arrest is suppressed. United States v. Morales, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 191830 (D. N.M. July 12, 2016):

As stated above, the United States is not required to prove probable cause in this case. Hill, 401 U.S. at 804. However, the government is required to provide reasonable and articulable grounds for the identification of an arrestee. Sanders, 339 A.2d at 379; see McCray, 468 F.2d at 448-49. Implicit in this requirement is that the government be able to articulate, at a hearing before the Court, the actual basis for the identification of an arrestee. Here, the government’s identification was based on unknown telephone data seized by U.S. Marshals pursuant to a state court order. The United States presented at the hearing that this data was used by unknown taskforce members using unknown methods to produce a GPS tracking location that allowed Deputy Segotta to get within 15 feet of Mr. Morales without Deputy Segotta having any other basis for knowing where Mr. Morales was. Ultimately, the United States failed to provide on what basis, if any, the GPS identification of Mr. Morales was made. As a result, the Court is unable to evaluate the factors or processes that were used to determine Mr. Morales’s location and identity in order to determine whether those methods were reasonable. The United States presented no witnesses to testify regarding the functioning of the GPS identification and provided no documentation regarding the GPS identification. In short, the United States has failed to articulate the basis of its identification of Mr. Morales.

As a fallback position, the United States offers as a corroborating identification the eyewitness information taken into account by Deputy Segotta in identifying Mr. Morales. For example, Deputy Segotta recognized that the Mazda where Mr. Morales was concealed was from a dealership that had a presence in Las Cruces, in the same county where the arrest warrant was issued. April 27, 2016 Hr. on Suppression Mot., at 10:00-02 am. Deputy Segotta also noted that even from Mr. Morales’s concealed position he had a sleeve tattoo. Id., at 10:03-07 am. Finally, Deputy Segotta recognized that the man in the driver’s seat of the Mazda might be Mr. Morales’s father. Id., at 9:58-10:00 am. The Court finds that this secondary identification was useful to corroborate the previous identification of Mr. Morales’s GPS location. However, but for the pinpoint accuracy of that GPS identification, which placed Deputy Segotta within 15 feet of Mr. Morales’s location, it is clear that Deputy Segotta never would have made this corroborating eyewitness identification. As a result, the secondary, corroborating identification cannot provide an independent basis for identifying Mr. Morales that satisfies the Fourth Amendment.

As a result of the government’s failure to articulate in Court how the GPS identification of Mr. Morales was made, this Court is left with insufficient facts to support the government’s contention that the identification was reasonable. The Court then draws the inevitable conclusion that the results of the identification of Mr. Morales must be suppressed.

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