N.D.Cal.: No RS for stop for alleged street deals based on CI

The officers’ claimed reasonable suspicion of street drug deals in San Francisco’s Tenderloin District just doesn’t add up to it on the totality of circumstances. The CI wasn’t adequately corroborated. The stop and frisk fails. United States v. Castaneda, 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 20252 (N.D. Cal. Feb. 7, 2019)*:

After evaluating the totality of the circumstances and applying the legal framework set forth above, the Court concludes that the officers lacked reasonable suspicion to stop and frisk Castaneda. Although the government asserts that the high-crime location and Castaneda’s “evasive” behavior supported reasonable suspicion, the majority of the government’s argument hinges on the reliability of the tip. However, the tip provided by the group of men lacked the indicia of reliability necessary to support the Terry stop. Citing Palos-Marquez, the government emphasizes that the tip was provided in-person and that the tip was made “nearly contemporaneously” with the precipitating event. The in-person nature of the tip does, under Palos-Marquez, weigh somewhat in favor of its reliability. However, Officer Ruetti states in his declaration that he “recognize[d] some of the men in the reporting group from prior police contacts in the Tenderloin. In particular, I had previously suspected one of the reporting men of being involved in drug distribution in the Tenderloin.” Ruetti Decl. ¶ 6. Thus, the reporting men consisted of (1) some men Officer Ruetti did not recognize; (2) some men Officer Ruetti recognized from “prior police contacts”; and (3) a suspected drug dealer. The reporting men had no track record of reliability, and to the contrary, a tip provided by a combination of unknown individuals and persons who were known to Officer Ruetti through prior “police contacts” should have been considered with some degree of skepticism. Unlike the tipsters in Rowland and Palos-Marquez who did not have an apparent motive to lie, the tipsters here — a group of men who included a suspected drug dealer and others known through “police contacts” – may very well have had a motive to lie about other individuals or a group of alleged “gangsters.” Further, while the witnesses’ “frantic” demeanor could be considered as bolstering the reliability of the tip, the fact that the entire tipster group of men immediately and closely followed Officer Ruetti up Hyde Street toward the first group of men further undercuts the reliability of the tip. Cf. Rowland, 464 F.3d at 908 (“The informant in this case provided sufficient detail to dispel concerns that the tip was a hoax.”); see also White, 496 U.S. at 333 (Stewart, J., dissenting) (expressing concern that if a generalized tip is sufficient to create reasonable suspicion, “[a]nybody with enough knowledge about a given person to make her the target of a prank, or to harbor a grudge against her, will certainly be able to formulate a tip about her”).

In addition, the tip utterly lacked detail and did not contain any predictive information that could be verified by the police. Unlike the tips in Rowland or Palos-Marquez, which contained specific identifying information about a particular person or vehicle, here the tipsters did not provide a name or a specific description of any individual who allegedly had a gun, nor did the tipsters provide any other details regarding the event giving rise to the tip. Officer Ruetti’s declaration states that the reporting men were “primarily Hispanic and speaking in broken English” and that neither he nor Officer Daggs spoke Spanish. …

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