N.D.Cal.: The question for a stop is potential danger, not “significant danger”

The government didn’t have to show that defendant posed a potential significant danger to officers; just a possible danger based on objective observations and knowledge. It satisfied that here even though the offense (flashing a weapon) happened earlier in the day. The offense justifying the stop need not have been in the officer’s view. United States v. Vandergroen, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 144664 (N.D. Cal. Aug. 24, 2018):

Defendant argues that he did not present a significant degree of danger, suggesting that certain indications presenting danger to police or others, such as harming or threatening others or physically resisting officers, are required to find that intrusive or aggressive tactics were justified in a Terry stop. Reply at 9. Settled authority does not, however, require significant danger to allow police officers to protect themselves, but only reasonable suspicion warranting an investigative stop and reasonable steps to protect their safety. Terry, 392 U.S. at 24 (“When an officer is justified in believing that the individual whose suspicious behavior he is investigating at close range is armed and presently dangerous to the officer or to others, it would appear to be clearly unreasonable to deny the officer the power to take necessary measures to determine whether the person is in fact carrying a weapon and to neutralize the threat of physical harm.”). The Supreme Court has recognized “that the policeman making a reasonable investigatory stop should not be denied the opportunity to protect himself from attack by a hostile suspect.” United States v. Taylor, 716 F.2d 701, 708 (9th Cir. 1983) (quoting Adams v. Williams, 407 U.S. 143, 146 (1972)).

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