MI: The officer’s contact with def alone in a “high crime” area wasn’t RS

The officer here approached defendant in his parked car in an apartment complex parking lot without reasonable suspicion to inquire of what he was doing there. That ultimately led to an assault charge. Summarily reversed and dismissed without argument: There was no lawful justification for the stop in the first place, a requirement of state law. People v. Prude, 2024 Mich. LEXIS 1269 (July 5, 2024):

  1. An individual’s presence in a high-crime area provides no particular reasonable basis for suspicion as to the activity of that person. Thus, an individual’s presence in an area of expected criminal activity, standing alone, is not sufficient to support a reasonable, particularized suspicion that the person is committing a crime. While presence in a high-crime area may support the existence of reasonable suspicion, this is so only if the suspect engages in suspicious behavior. Further, a refusal to cooperate with police officers, without more, does not furnish the minimal level of objective justification needed for a detention or seizure. To hold otherwise would effectively mean that any person who is approached by an officer in a high-crime area must fully cooperate with that officer or else be subject to a Terry seizure. In some circumstances, individual factors that would be insufficient on their own to justify a Terry stop can be aggregated to provide reasonable suspicion under the totality of the circumstances; but this is true only if the individual factors collectively are greater than the sum of their parts and build to form the requisite objective basis of the particularized suspicion that criminal activity is occurring.
  2. In this case, the officers were not acting lawfully in the performances of their duties when they detained defendant, a required element for both offenses for which he was convicted. The relevant facts included that (1) defendant was alone and parked legally with the engine off during daylight hours in an area of the parking lot where nonresidents frequently committed crimes, (2) defendant declined to identify himself at Officer Deleeuw’s request, and (3) defendant admitted that he was not a resident of the apartment complex but that he was visiting his girlfriend, who was a resident. These facts did not amount to an objectively reasonable, particularized suspicion that defendant was trespassing. The fact that defendant refused to identify himself and was in an area where other nonresidents had frequently committed crimes did not provide reasonable suspicion that defendant himself was engaged in criminal activity when the officers approached him. Indeed, there was nothing suspicious about defendant being parked in the apartment complex’s parking lot in the early evening while visiting a resident of that complex. While the officers had the right to seek a consensual encounter with defendant in the parking lot to determine whether he was engaged in criminal activity and to advise him of any trespass policy the complex may have had, there was no evidence that defendant engaged in any suspicious behavior to provide a particularized basis for a seizure. Accordingly, because the officers did not act lawfully when they detained defendant—a required element of the offenses—there was insufficient evidence to support his convictions beyond a reasonable doubt.
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