United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle
ORDER ON MOTION TO SUPPRESS
C. COUGHENOUR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter comes before the Court on Defendant Todd Ashbach's
motion to suppress (Dkt. No. 30). Having thoroughly
considered the parties' briefing and the relevant record,
the Court DENIES the motion for the reasons explained herein.
is charged with one count each of Felon in Possession of a
Firearm; Possession of an Unregistered Device, a silencer;
Possession of Heroin with Intent to Distribute; and
Possession of Methamphetamine with Intent to Distribute.
(Dkt. No. 15 at 1-3.) Police seized all of the items while
searching Ashbach's motel room and two vehicles in his
possession. (Dkt. Nos. 31 at 5, 35 at 5-6.) Police conducted
the searches after obtaining a search warrant. (Dkt. No. 32.)
Officer Justin Gann of the Lynwood Police Department
requested the warrant based upon probable cause evidence the
officer collected the day prior that the weapons and drugs
would be located in Ashbach's vehicles and the motel
Gann was on patrol the day prior for the Special Operations
Section of the Lynwood Police Department. (Dkt. No. 31 at
1-2.) He noticed a Volkswagen parked in a handicapped spot at
a motel without a visible handicap placard. (Id.)
Upon the officer's inquiry, motel staff indicated that
the vehicle belonged to someone in Ashbach's room, and
there had been significant foot traffic to and from the room
throughout the day. (Id. at 2.) Officer Gann knocked
on the door, and an unidentified female, later identified as
J.E., answered. (Id.) She said the car was hers and
she would move it. (Id.) J.E. and the officer
proceeded to the parking lot, where the officer observed
Ashbach come downstairs and place a bag into a BMW.
(Id.) Ashbach then approach J.E. and the officer,
who were still discussing the car and J.E.'s identity.
(Id.) The officer asked Ashbach and J.E. to produce
some identification relating to them and/or the illegally
parked Volkswagen. (Id. at 3.) Ashbach produced a
fake I.D. (Id.) Based on the fake I.D., the officer
arrested Ashbach. (Id. at 4.) During a resulting
search incident to Ashbach's arrest, the officer
recovered $9, 000 in cash and a bank debit card with
Ashbach's true name on it. (Id. at 4.)
and J.E. later consented to a search of Ashbach's room,
signing a statement to that effect. (Id.) During the
search, Officer Gann, along with assisting officers,
recovered drug paraphernalia, body armor, and a jacket
bearing a Seattle police badge. (Id. at 5.) They
also recovered a small amount of drugs from J.E.'s purse.
(Id.) Based upon this evidence, Officer Gann
arrested Ashbach's companion. (Id.) J.E. told
officers after she arrived at the station that they missed a
handgun with a silencer and armor piercing ammunition in the
motel room. (Id.) She also indicated there were guns
in the Volkswagen and a large quantity of drugs in the BMW.
(Id.) Officer Gann impounded the vehicles and
instructed the motel to secure the room until he could
acquire a search warrant. (Dkt. No. 32 at 9.) Another officer
deployed a drug-sniffing dog on the impounded vehicles.
(Id.) The dog detected drugs on both vehicles.
upon the evidence described above, Officer Gann sought a
warrant to search the impounded vehicles and to reenter and
search the motel room. (Dkt. No. 32) (copy of search
warrant). The resulting search led to the discovery of three
handguns, a silencer, a sawed-off shotgun, fully loaded
ammunition magazines, armor piercing bullets, 900 grams of
heroin and 498 grams of methamphetamine. (Dkt. No. 35 at
moves to suppress the evidence on the basis that they were
the fruits of an unlawful Terry stop and/or
supported by a search warrant issued without probable cause.
(Dkt. No. 31 at 8-9.) He also requests an evidentiary hearing
on the matter. (Dkt. No. 30.)
Search Incident to Arrest
asserts that his arrest was unlawful because it was based on
an impermissible Terry stop. (Id. at 6.) He
claims the Terry stop was impermissible because
Officer Gann lacked reasonable suspicion to detain him at the
time the stop commenced and that his detention lasted too
long. (Id. at 6-7.) Under Terry, an officer
has reasonable suspicion supporting a brief investigatory
detention when “specific, articulable facts . . .
together with rational inferences from those facts”
warrant detention. Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1, 21
(1968). Further, the detention period cannot extend beyond
the time necessary to investigate whether a crime has been
committed. Florida v. Royer, 460 U.S. 491, 500
Ashbach's assertions suffer from the same logical
infirmity-that Ashbach's detention commenced when the
officer first knocked on his motel room door. (Dkt. No. 31 at
2.) Detention begins when “in view of all the
circumstances surrounding the incident, a reasonable person
would have believed that he was not free to leave.”
I.N.S. v. Delgado, 466 U.S. 210, 215 (1984)
(internal quotation omitted). Here, a reasonable person would
conclude that detention occurred much later than when the
officer first knocked on Ashbach's door.
Ashbach's own admission, after Officer Gann knocked on
his door, the officer followed J.E. into the hall to discuss
the car situation. (Dkt. No. 31 at 2.) At some point later,
Ashbach stepped out of the room, first encountering the
officer while he was speaking with J.E. about the car.
(Id.) After briefly participating in the discussion,
Ashbach left. (Id.) He went to his BMW and placed a
bag into it. (Id.) Ashbach again briefly spoke with
the officer after doing so. (Id. at 3.) Again,
Ashbach left. (Id.) He went to his room to produce
the “paperwork or ID's about themselves or the
vehicle” that the officer requested.
(Id.) After handing the officer his
identification, Ashbach left again, heading initially to a
soda machine and when he found that it was not working, to
the motel lobby. (Id. at 3.)
Gann suspected the identification was fake. (Id.) It
could easily be torn, the bar code was misaligned, and the
graphics were not fully see through. (Dkt. No. 35 at 3).
Furthermore, the physical description did not match Ashbach.
(Dkt. No. 31 at 3.) The officer sought out Ashbach.
(Id.) He found him in the motel lobby, and
instructed him to “take a seat” while he
continued to investigate the matter. (Id.) This is
the point where a reasonable person would believe he was
being detained, as the officer commanded him to stay put.
Further, at that point, detention was lawful. Officer Gann
had reasonable suspicion that Ashbach had committed a crime.
See U.S. v. Hensley, 469 U.S. 221, 226 (1985)
(describing reasonable suspicion); Wash. Rev. Code §
66.20.200 (possession of fake identification is a
misdemeanor); Wash. Rev. Code. § 46.61.020 (giving a
false name to an officer while “in charge” of a
vehicle is a misdemeanor). Then, once Officer Gann confirmed
with dispatch that Ashbach's identification ...