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United States v. Williams

United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit

September 20, 2016

United States of America, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
Tony Williams, Defendant-Appellee.

          Argued and Submitted January 7, 2016 San Francisco, California

         Appeal from the United States District Court for the District of Nevada Richard F. Boulware, District Judge, Presiding D.C. No. 2:14-cr-00334-RFB-VCF-1

          Adam M. Flake (argued), Assistant United States Attorney; Elizabeth O. White, Appellate Chief; Daniel G. Bogden, United States Attorney; United States Attorney's Office, Las Vegas, Nevada; for Plaintiff-Appellant.

          Amy B. Cleary (argued), Assistant Federal Public Defender; Rene L. Vallardes, Federal Public Defender; Office of the Federal Public Defender, Las Vegas, Nevada; for Defendant-Appellee.

          Before: J. Clifford Wallace and Alex Kozinski, Circuit Judges and Robert H. Whaley, [*] Senior District Judge.

         SUMMARY[**]

         Criminal Law

         The panel reversed the district court's order granting a motion to suppress evidence of crack cocaine in the defendant's pockets and the firearm in his vehicle.

         The panel held that police officers had reasonable suspicion to conduct an investigatory stop based on the information they possessed and the reliability of a telephone tip.

         After the initial stop, the officers developed probable cause to arrest the defendant because he obstructed them in their attempt to enforce Nevada Revised Statute § 171.123, which dictates that police officers may detain a suspect whom the officers have reasonable suspicion has committed, is committing, or is about to commit a crime, in order to obtain that individual's identity. The panel held that the government did not waive its argument that the officers had probable cause to arrest the defendant for violating § 171.123 where before the district court the government argued generally that the officers had probable cause to arrest him because he ran. The panel held that the officers conducted a valid search incident to arrest when they searched the defendant's pockets and found crack cocaine.

         The panel further held that the officers lawfully searched the defendant's vehicle because, under the totality of the circumstances, they had probable cause to believe that it contained contraband or evidence of drug dealing.

         The panel remanded the case for further proceedings.

          OPINION

          WALLACE, Circuit Judge:

         The government appeals from the district court's order granting Williams's motion to suppress evidence of the crack cocaine in his pockets and the firearm in his vehicle. We have jurisdiction pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3731, and we reverse.

         I.

         We review de novo an order granting a motion to suppress. See United States v. Crawford, 372 F.3d 1048, 1053 (9th Cir. 2004) (en banc). "A determination whether there was reasonable suspicion to support an investigatory 'stop and frisk' is a mixed question of law and fact, also reviewed de novo." United States v. Burkett, 612 F.3d 1103, 1106 (9th Cir. 2010). The district court's factual findings are reviewed for clear error. Crawford, 372 F.3d at 1053 (citing United States v. Hammett, 236 F.3d 1054, 1057-58 (9th Cir. 2001)).

         II.

         At 4:40 a.m., a person who identified himself as Tony Jones telephoned a Las Vegas police hotline to report an adult, black male sleeping inside a grey Ford Five Hundred car. Jones reported that the man was "known to sell drugs in the area, " did not live in the adjacent apartment complex, and Jones expressed that he "just wanted the person moved out of the area." Jones provided the operator with his phone number and address.

         The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department (Metro) dispatched two officers on duty in the reported area, Alvin Hubbard and Thomas Keller. Hubbard and Keller were on patrol in a marked Metro patrol car, with Hubbard driving. When Hubbard and Keller arrived at the apartment complex the caller had identified, they saw a grey Ford Five Hundred car in the parking lot. ...


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