N.D.Ohio: Consent was to “take a look around,” but a complete search occurred and it’s suppresed

Consent was to “take a look around.” Instead, a complete search occurred, and that violated the scope of consent. Moreover, directions to the consenter show that she was under police control and not free to leave and that factors into the lack of voluntariness. United States v. Damron, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 214469 (N.D. Ohio Dec. 8, 2017):

In addition to the Court’s credibility findings stated on the record, the Court found it significant that Officer Shurtz testified that he asked Ms. Hill if he could “take a look around” but that is not what he did. Trans. 68-69. He and his fellow probation officers tore out all the clothes from the closet, ripped the sheets off the bed, flipped the mattress over, and searched the top of an entertainment center that was over six feet tall. Trans. 14, 70. If Officer Shurtz was relying on oral consent for the search, then he needed to obtain consent for a full and comprehensive search. Further, Officer Shurtz testified that he prevented Ms. Hill from using her cell phone while the officers conducted the search and told her to sit down on the living room couch and not move. Trans. 69-70. If this was a consent search, as Officer Shurtz testified, Ms. Hill should have been able to move freely throughout her house and use her cell phone. A reasonable person in Ms. Hill’s position could have perceived the search as compulsory.

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