Thursday, September 07, 2006

Anonymous Tip plus Defendant's Flight upon Seeing Police Sufficient to Sustain Terry Stop

United States v. Muhammad, Docket No. 05-4923-cr (Miner, Wesley, Swaine): This minor opinion upholds a Terry stop justified by (1) an anonymous 911 call describing someone fitting the defendant's appearance and location as carrying a gun, and (2) the defendant's (supposed) "headlong flight" when the police car approached him. Although the tip alone would have been insufficient under Florida v. JL, 529 U.S. 266 (2000), the police's observation of the defendant's "flight" distinguished this case from JL. Op. 11 ("The officers' personal observation of Muhammad's evasive conduct was the additional factor, missing in JL, that corroborated the anonymous tip and provided the objective manifestation that criminal activity was afoot.").

The Circuit also rejected Muhammad's claim that he did not flee from the police, but simply tried to avoid crashing into the police car as it cut him off. And, no surprise, despite conflicting testimony, e.g., Op. 3, and some dubious fact-finding by the magistrate judge, id. 12-13, the Circuit found no clear error.


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