W.D.N.C.: Roadblock near scene of home invasion robbery was reasonable

Police set up a perimeter a distance around the scene of a home invasion looking for the car involved, and defendant’s car was stopped. This checkpoint stop was valid under Illinois v. Lidster. United States v. Gilmore, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 61464 (W.D. N.C. Apr. 11, 2018):

Once a court determines that a checkpoint’s primary purpose is a permissible one, the inquiry does not end. Lidster requires this Court to also consider the reasonableness of the particular checkpoint in question on the basis of its individual circumstances. 540 U.S. at 426-27. This requires balancing three factors: “the gravity of the public concerns served by the seizure, the degree to which the seizure advances the public interest, and the severity of the interference with individual liberty.” Id. at 427 (quoting Brown v. Texas, 443 U.S. 47, 51, 99 S. Ct. 2637, 61 L. Ed. 2d 357 (1979)). “Factors to weigh intrusiveness include whether the checkpoint: (1) is clearly visible; (2) is part of some systematic procedure that strictly limits the discretionary authority of police officers; and (3) detains drivers no longer than is reasonably necessary to accomplish the purpose of checking a license and registration, unless other facts come to light creating a reasonable suspicion of criminal activity.” U.S. v. Henson, 351 F. App’x 818, 821 (4th Cir. 2009).

Here, a balancing of these factors clearly weighs in favor of the Government. The gravity of the public’s concerns served by the stop included the officers’ goal to obtain information regarding the whereabouts of a potentially armed suspect within a residential community at 4 a.m. in the morning. The stop also advanced the public interest in apprehending the suspect. As to the third factor, the severity of the interference was minimal, in that officers intended to stop any passing motorist in the visible road way for a short time to inquire about whether motorists had seen the suspect. Here, officers had barely engaged in the stop of Defendant’s vehicle when they observed a suspicious person hiding in the back seat of her car.

For these reasons, the Court finds the evidence shows the officers’ stop of Defendant’s vehicle under these facts was for information gathering purposes and was reasonable. Further, the person matching the suspect description and attempting to hide in the back seat justified the officers’ actions following the stop. See Henson, 351 F. App’x at 821; United States v. Lopez, 777 F.2d 543, 547 (10th Cir.1985) (“The law does not require the police to ignore evidence of other crimes in conducting legitimate roadblocks[ .]”).

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