S.D.Ga.: [Gratuitously] asking motorist for consent deviated from the mission of the stop; motion to suppress granted

Asking defendant for consent to search when there were three officers around and then telling the others she declined unreasonably extended the stop even though it was 50 seconds. No decision had been made to issue a ticket or a warning at that point. The stop was for a defective brake light, and nothing added up to reasonable suspicion. United States v. Keith, 2021 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 249938 (S.D.Ga. Dec. 2, 2021), adopted Doc. 41 (Jan. 10, 2022) (on Pacer but not yet on Lexis; 2022 WL 95287):

Defendant argues Deputy Wells prolonged the traffic stop for approximately fifty seconds when he asked Ms. McClendon for consent to search her car and informed the other officers of her declination. The Court agrees. Before asking for consent to search, Deputy Wells conferred with Deputy Wilcher and determined there was a basis for charging Ms. McClendon with a broken brake light and unrestrained children. When Deputy Wilcher asked Deputy Wells what he wanted to do as the officer in charge of the traffic stop, Deputy Wells walked away without explanation. He returned to Ms. McClendon’s car and asked for consent to search, then informed the other officers of her declination. Only upon announcing the declination did Deputy Wells announce his decision to issue a warning for the brake light, at which point the officers resumed the process of wrapping up the traffic stop while the dog sniff was conducted.

During this fifty-second interlude, no officer was “engaged in procedures reasonably necessary for the completion of [the stop’s] purpose – issuing a citation.” …

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