E.D.Ky.: RS of drugs doesn’t automatically mean “armed and dangerous”

Reasonable suspicion defendant was involved with drugs does not equate with “armed and dangerous.” Without minimizing the danger weapons would create, it’s a dangerous precedent to go that far just based on officers’ experience. United States v. Gallegos, 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 66616 (E.D. Ky. Apr. 19, 2019):

McBride’s only support for the notion that Avalos may have been armed and dangerous because of the alleged drug transaction was that, in his experience as a law enforcement officer, “a lot of times guns go with drugs.” [DE 47 at Page ID # 134]. The Court does not minimize the risks associated with drug transactions, but simply stating that any suspicion of a drug transaction equates to reasonable suspicion that a person is armed and dangerous would be a dangerous precedent. As the Supreme Court has directed, “[t]he ‘narrow scope’ of the Terry exception does not permit a frisk for weapons on less than reasonable belief or suspicion directed at the person to be frisked, even though that person happens to be on premises where an authorized narcotics search is taking place.” Ybarra v. Illinois, 444 U.S. 85, 94, 100 S. Ct. 338, 62 L. Ed. 2d 238 (1979). The connection here is even more tenuous than being on the premises where a narcotics search is taking place: Avalos’s car was seen near another car by an officer—but not seen exchanging anything—that was later found to have drugs in it.

Again, given the limited information McBride testified to regarding the Mi Mexico interaction and the arrest of the other vehicle, nothing before the Court would create a reasonable suspicion that Avalos was “armed and dangerous.” An officer “need not be absolutely certain that the individual is armed” but must point to something more specific than an “inchoate and unparticularized suspicion or ‘hunch[.]'” Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1, 27, 88 S. Ct. 1868, 20 L. Ed. 2d 889 (1968).

This entry was posted in Reasonable suspicion. Bookmark the permalink.

Comments are closed.