A police show of force at an “armed party” where several officers converged and at least one had a gun drawn on the group was a seizure. Under Florida v. J.L. there is no firearms exception to the reasonable suspicion requirement. Here, there was none on this anonymous report. Without articulable reasonable suspicion, the court would be sanctioning general searches on the street. State v. Williamson, 368 S.W.3d 468 (Tenn. 2012), revg State v. Williamson, 2011 Tenn. Crim. App. LEXIS 656 (August 19, 2011):
Since the Court's decision in J.L., its principles have been applied in a variety of cases on both the federal and state levels. Recently, the Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit addressed the denial of a motion to suppress under facts similar to those before this Court today. In United States v. Massenburg, 654 F.3d 480 (4th Cir. 2011), police received an anonymous phone call alleging that eight shots had been fired in "a high-crime area." Id. at 482-83. As in this case, there was no description of the suspect. Id. at 483. One of the officers who responded to the call saw four young black men walking a few blocks from where the shots were allegedly fired. Id. ... The district court upheld the propriety of the stop and frisk .... The Fourth Circuit reversed, first emphasizing that in order to justify a frisk, "the Constitution requires 'a particularized and objective basis for suspecting the particular person stopped of criminal activity.'" Id. at 486 (quoting United States v. Griffin, 589 F.3d 148, 152 (4th Cir. 2009)). The court found "precious little" to demonstrate that the officer "had reasonable, particularized suspicion ... such that a non[-]consensual frisk was lawful under the Fourth Amendment," holding that the anonymous tip neither provided any predictive information about the suspect nor tested the knowledge or credibility of the informant. Massenburg, 654 F.3d at 486-87. In addition, the court found that the tip's reliability was undermined because it did not include a "physical description of the perpetrators or any other outward identifying features," meaning that "the only link between the tip and Massenburg's group was [their] rough proximity to the alleged site of the gunfire." Id. at 487. Finally, the court observed that the location of the incident in a high-crime area failed to bolster the credibility or reliability of the anonymous tip. Id. at 488. "To hold otherwise," the court ruled,
would be to authorize general searches of persons on the street not unlike those conducted of old by the crown against the colonists. Allowing officers to stop and frisk any individuals in the neighborhood after even the most generic of anonymous tips would be tantamount to permitting a regime of general searches of virtually any individual residing in or found in high-crime neighborhoods, where complaints of random gunfire in the night are all too usual.
Id. (alteration in original) (internal quotation marks omitted).
. . .
Based upon our review of J.L., and the numerous cases with comparable facts, we conclude that the anonymous tip to the Covington police was insufficient to support the stop and frisk of the Defendant. The unidentified 911 caller, whose complaint was relayed to the various officers by dispatch, contained only an allegation that an armed individual was outside a particular room at the Baxter Motel. The content of the tip provided even less support for a stop and frisk than that in J.L., as there was no description of the suspect, much less "predictive information," which would allow police "to test the informant's knowledge or credibility." 529 U.S. at 271; ... Because of the lack of descriptive information, as in Massenburg, "the only link between the tip" and the Defendant was his proximity to Room 21. 654 F.3d at 486-87.9 In Gomes, the tip at issue was substantially more detailed than the one before this Court, including a description of the suspect's appearance, the make and color of his car, in addition to the allegation that he was "holding a gun in the air" in a high-crime area, 937 N.E.2d at 14, yet the court determined that it was insufficient. In comparison, the tip in this case falls far short of providing sufficiently probative information.
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—Mapp v. Ohio, 367 U.S. 643, 659 (1961).
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—Katz v. United States, 389 U.S. 347, 351 (1967)
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of zeal, well-meaning but without understanding.”
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—United States v. $124,570, 873 F.2d 1240, 1246 (9th Cir. 1989)
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—Johnson v. United States, 333 U.S. 10, 13-14 (1948)