United States District Court, D. Massachusetts
David Dardy, Defendant: John R. Salsberg, LEAD ATTORNEY, Law
Office of John Salsberg, Boston, MA; Timothy M. Burton,
USA, Plaintiff: John A. Wortmann, Jr., LEAD ATTORNEY, United
States Attorney's Office, Boston, MA.
P. WOODLOCK, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
David Dardy moved to suppress physical evidence obtained
during a search of a vehicle in which he was a passenger and
a subsequent search of his person on July 11, 2013. He also
moved to suppress statements made following these searches by
him and his fellow passenger. I conducted an evidentiary
hearing on the motion to determine whether a valid traffic
stop occurred. For the following reasons, I have denied
Dardy's motion to suppress.
Findings of Fact
The Traffic Stop
1:45 a.m. on July 11, 2013, Officers Antoine Ramos and Joseph
McDonough of the Boston Police Department were patrolling the
area between the St. Joseph's and Warren Gardens housing
complexes in Roxbury due to an earlier shooting
there. As they were driving down Wakullah
Street, Officer McDonough observed a dark-colored livery car
parked in front of 4 Wakullah Street. Because the car was
parked in front of a known gang member's house in an area
very near the recent shooting, the officers had an interest
in watching the car for " any movement." Wakullah
Street is a one-way street that lets out onto Rockland
Street. The officers parked their marked cruiser on Rockland
Street, where they could not see anyone entering or exiting
the car. Officer McDonough then observed the livery car drive
along Wakullah Street, turn left on Rockland Street (where
the officers were parked), follow Rockland Street around a
bend, and drive toward the intersection of Rockland and Dale
livery car driver had been dispatched to 4 Wakullah Street
and picked up three male passengers there. According to the
driver, the men were indecisive about where they wanted to
go. As the livery car drove down Rockland Street, toward Dale
Street, the officers followed in their cruiser, beginning
about thirty yards away from it and coming within ten to
fifteen yards of the car before it reached the intersection
of Rockland and Dale Streets.
intersection of Rockland and Dale Streets contains a stop
sign and a crosswalk, but no stop line. By Officer
McDonough's account, which I credit, the livery car was
driving at a " normal" speed and slowed down as it
approached the intersection. However, the car did not stop at
or before the stop sign, and instead drove through the
intersection at approximately five miles an hour before
coming to a complete stop in the middle of the intersection,
within eight to ten feet of the edge of the crosswalk.
livery driver's account, this aspect of which I credit,
as he was reaching the intersection of Rockland and Dale
Streets, the passengers were undecided as to where they
wanted to go. One of the passengers instructed him to turn
right while another instructed him to turn left. Because of
this confusion and his efforts to learn their destination,
the driver was not entirely attentive to when and where he
came to a complete stop.
the livery driver has provided various contradictory
testimony regarding the matter, I find that he did not come
to a full stop before the stop sign, but at most slowed down
while trying to decipher where the passengers wanted to
basis that the driver had violated a traffic law by failing
to stop at the stop sign, Officer McDonough activated the
emergency lights and sirens on his police cruiser to conduct
a traffic stop.
Events Following the Traffic Stop
Officer McDonough activated his lights and sirens, the livery
car turned right on Dale Street, seemingly in response to the
indication that it was being stopped by the police cruiser.
As the car came to a complete stop, the rear passenger side
door of the car opened and a man exited quickly, running away
from the officers along Dale Street toward Washington Street.
Officers Ramos and McDonough immediately pursued the fleeing
man. Officer McDonough observed that the man held his right
arm close to his side, while
pumping his left arm, which in the officer's experience
indicated illegal possession of a weapon.
John Quinn and Jeff Connolly, who were in plain clothes in an
unmarked but recognizable police vehicle, were also
patrolling the area when they turned onto Dale Street from
Washington Street and saw the stopped cars and the chase
underway. Officer Quinn joined the pursuit, while Officer
Connolly heeded Officer McDonough's instruction over the
radio to stay with the stopped car.
Connolly heard from Officer McDonough that there were more
people in the stopped livery car, and understood that he
should investigate, despite not knowing the reason for the
initial stop or why one of the passengers had fled. He had,
however, made the same observation as Officer Quinn that the
fleeing man held one arm close to his waistband. He
approached the car with his flashlight and firearm in the
" low ready position" yelling " show me your
hands," and observed a driver and two men in the rear of
the vehicle who were moving around.
driver had his hands on the steering wheel, and Officer
Connolly concluded that he did not pose an immediate threat.
The officer observed the passenger on the driver's side,
Antoine Brown, place his hands near his chest or chin.
Officer Connolly also observed Dardy, the passenger who was
seated in the middle, " move down forward in a crouching
position" toward the passenger seat, such that the
officer lost sight of him. The livery driver stated that he
believed, and I credit as true, that Dardy was trying to hide
something made of metal under the front passenger seat, but
there was an iron bar blocking the space.
Connolly gave verbal commands for Brown, who was closest to
him, to exit the vehicle. Brown did not respond quickly
enough, so the officer opened the back driver's side door
and removed him. After removing Brown, Officer Connolly
immediately went back into the vehicle with his flashlight
and firearm and again observed Dardy leaning down in a
crouched position and saw that his hands were on a firearm on
the floor between his feet. Officer Connolly ordered Dardy to
put his hands by his face, and Dardy complied. He then
ordered Dardy to get out of the vehicle and lie on the
ground, which Dardy did. The driver was not ordered out of
the car until another officer arrived on the scene.
another officer arrived, Brown, Dardy, and the driver were
placed in handcuffs. The driver, having learned about the gun
from the officers, gave them permission to search the
vehicle. Officer Connolly also conducted a patfrisk search of
Dardy and recovered from his sock six individually wrapped
items that appeared to be crack cocaine. The gun was not
removed from the car until detectives arrived.
was arrested on July 11, 2013 following the patfrisk search.
He was indicted by a grand jury on November 13, 2013, on one
count of possession of a firearm and ammunition by a felon,
in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1). After a hearing
on his motion to suppress during which I announced I would
deny it, Dardy unconditionally pled guilty. These findings
and conclusions are set forth herein to provide ...