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United States v. Bradford

United States District Court, D. Idaho

November 14, 2017

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
JASON BRADFORD, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER

          B. Lynn Winmill, United States District Court Chief Judge

         I

         INTRODUCTION

         At around 4:30 in the morning on January 26, 2017, Jason Bradford was pulled over for failing to maintain his lane. During the traffic stop, a K9 officer arrived, asked Mr. Bradford to step out of the car, conducted a patdown, and discovered a gun in Mr. Bradford's jacket pocket. Mr. Bradford moves to suppress this evidence, arguing that the officers violated his Fourth Amendment rights by unlawfully prolonging the traffic stop and patting him down. See Dkt. 17.

         The Court heard testimony at an evidentiary hearing on September 28, 2017 and the parties submitted supplemental briefing afterward. For the reasons explained below, the Court intends to deny the motion, but will refrain from ruling at this point.

         II

         FACTUAL BACKGROUND

         In the early morning hours of January 26, 2017, several Boise Police Department officers, including Officers Mitch Tiner and Jason Green, were surveilling a suspected drug-trafficking residence in Boise. At around 4:00 a.m., Officer Green saw a Ford Bronco pull up to the house and park on the street. The driver went inside for between 15 and 40 minutes, then walked outside carrying something in his hands. Before he got into the Bronco and drove off, the driver handed the object he had been carrying to one of two people who had walked outside with him. The Bronco then left the residence but returned within a minute or so. The driver stepped outside, was met by one of the two people who had been standing outside with him earlier, retrieved the object he had been carrying earlier, and drove off again, this time without the headlights on.

         Officer Green did not follow the Bronco when it left because at the time he was more interested in another vehicle that was parked at the residence. Nevertheless, he radioed other officers on duty to look out for traffic violations committed by the Bronco.

         Approximately one-half mile from the residence, Officer Tiner pulled over the Bronco for failing to maintain its lane. Bradford, who was driving the Bronco, said he had dropped his phone, which explained why he had swerved out of his lane. For roughly the first three minutes and thirty-four seconds of the stop, Officer Tiner spoke with Bradford about his traffic violation, Bradford's parole status, and the Bronco. Bradford informed Officer Tiner that he was on parole for attempted robbery, grand theft, and a firearms offense.

         Roughly three minutes and forty-five seconds after pulling over Bradford, Officer Tiner returned to his patrol car, communicated with dispatch, pulled out Bradford's driver's license, and began writing the citation. Before he returned to his patrol car, however, two other officers, Michelle Havens and Jessica Perkins, arrived on the scene. Officer Havens positioned herself at the passenger window of the Bronco before Officer Tiner returned to his patrol car to write the citation.

         A fourth officer, Jason Green, arrived with his drug dog while Officer Tiner was in his car filling out the citation. Officer Green walked up to Officer Tiner, and the two officers had a brief conversation. The first 26 seconds of the conversation were recorded, and this is what the officers said:

Officer Green: Did you use the lights?
Officer Tiner: Yeah.
Officer Green: What's that?
Officer Tiner: Uhm, (inaudible) fail to maintain lane. When he was coming down, he hit center, uh, lanes and then all the way over into the solid white. I walked up and he was like, “I'm sorry, I dropped my phone. I was trying to get my phone off my feet.”
Officer Green: Did you uh, uh, did you tell him about ...

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