On the totality, officers had reasonable suspicion for a Terry stop of defendants for being involved in an armed robbery. He was near the scene, walking away, although he matched the description by race and gender. Moreover, two other men had already been stopped, but the officers couldn’t be sure they had the right persons. United States v. Keycie, 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 6331 (7th Cir. Mar. 1, 2019):
Terry does not authorize broad dragnets, but it also does not require perfection or precision. Without more, a description that applies to large numbers of people will not justify the seizure of a particular individual. See, e.g., United States v. Turner, 699 A.2d 1125, 1128-29 (D.C. 1997). This is especially true where the description is based primarily on race and sex, as important and helpful as those factors can be in describing a suspect. See, e.g., United States v. Foster, 891 F.3d 93, 105 (3d Cir. 2018) (vague descriptions, including race and sex, “without more, are not enough to support reasonable suspicion”); Brown v. City of Oneonta, 221 F.3d 329, 333-34 (2d Cir. 2000) (“a description of race and gender alone will rarely provide reasonable suspicion justifying a police search or seizure”); United States v. Montero-Camargo, 208 F.3d 1122, 1134 n.21 (9th Cir. 2000) (en banc) (acknowledging importance of “the use of racial or ethnic appearance as one factor relevant to reasonable suspicion or probable cause when a particular suspect has been identified as having a specific racial or ethnic appearance”). The totality of circumstances, however, may provide additional and reasonable limits, particularly with respect to place and time, so as to allow a stop based on a fairly general description.
Here, the totality of the circumstances shows reasonable suspicion for stopping Street to investigate him. The police were searching for suspects who had committed an armed robbery only minutes before. They had more general descriptions than was ideal. That’s not unusual when events unfold so quickly. But a lack of better, more detailed descriptions does not mean officers must disregard the limited information they do have. See, e.g., Foster, 891 F.3d at 104-06 (affirming denial of motion to suppress; armed robbery suspect was described only as black man fleeing on foot, and police had reasonable suspicion to stop the only black man on foot in vicinity); United States v. Arthur, 764 F.3d 92, 97-98 (1st Cir. 2014) (affirming denial of motion to suppress; armed robbery of cell phone store by two black men who fled on foot led to seizure of two black men walking away from robbed store); Turner, 699 A.2d at 1128-30 (reversing grant of motion to suppress; description of suspect as black male wearing black jacket and blue jeans was sufficient to stop nearby suspect even though description also resulted in stop of second suspect who fit description: “we have routinely held that an imperfect description, coupled with close spatial and temporal proximity between the reported crime and seizure, justifies a Terry stop”); 4 Wayne R. LaFave, Search & Seizure § 9.5(h) at 760 (5th ed. 2018) (“But it cannot be said that there must always be several points of comparison … the most important consideration is whether the description is sufficiently unique to permit a reasonable degree of selectivity from the group of all potential suspects.”).