MEMORANDUM OF DECISION AND ORDER ON: (1) MOTION TO
SUPPRESS EVIDENCE, AND (2) MOTION TO APPLY THE EXCLUSIONARY
RULE AT PROBATION REVOCATION HEARING
D. Wilson, Justice.
police officers pulled over Defendant Jahmil Sheppard's
car for an alleged motor vehicle infraction. Before the
encounter was over, the police had discovered a firearm in
the car, and so they charged Mr. Sheppard with
firearms-related offenses. Mr. Sheppard now moves to suppress
Sheppard was on probation at the time he was charged with
these new crimes. As a result, Mr. Sheppard now faces
possible revocation of his probation for violating its terms
by committing another crime. Therefore Mr. Sheppard has filed
a second motion, arguing that any evidence that I rule
inadmissible at trial in today's case must also be
excluded from evidence at the hearing concerning the
revocation of his probation in the earlier case.
a hearing on both motions on June 19, 2017. The only witness
was Officer Taylor Small of the Youth Violence Task Force of
the Boston Police Department. Five exhibits were introduced,
including video taken by Officer Small's body camera,
which was also played during the hearing. Counsel argued the
motions both before and after the presentation of the
now allow the motion to suppress, as well as the motion to
exclude the suppressed evidence at the probation revocation
on all the credible evidence and the reasonable inferences
from that evidence, I find the following facts.
September 28, 2016, at approximately 9:25 P.M., Officer Small
was on routine patrol in an unmarked cruiser with two
partners. As is their habit when on patrol, the officers used
their in-cruiser computer to query law enforcement databases
about the registered owners of motor vehicles they
encountered. Their purpose was to check for stolen vehicles,
expired registrations, revoked insurance coverage, and the
night, their cruiser fell in behind a motor vehicle operated
by Mr. Sheppard. The officers submitted a query about the
auto's registration, and learned that Mr. Sheppard was
the registered owner of the car. Officer Small and at least
one of his partners immediately recognized the name, because
they had arrested Mr. Sheppard in May 2013 for carrying an
unlicensed firearm in his motor vehicle. These officers were
aware that Mr. Sheppard had been convicted of a firearms
violation at that time, and had one additional
firearms-related conviction on his record. They were also
aware that Mr. Sheppard was on probation as a result of his
conviction for the firearms crime for which they had arrested
him three years earlier. The officers submitted further
queries, confirming that Mr. Sheppard's motor vehicle was
inspected and insured and that he had a valid driver's
officers followed Mr. Sheppard down a one-way street,
containing one traffic lane and parking on both sides, Mr.
Sheppard pulled quickly into a parking space on the left side
of the street. He did not signal before making that maneuver.
The officers decided that Mr. Sheppard had acted in a way
that was unsafe for following vehicles. (However, Officer
Small, who was driving the vehicle closest to Mr.
Sheppard's car on this one-lane street, did not testify
that he was forced to take any action as a result of Mr.
Sheppard pulling his car to the curb.) The officers decided
to cite Mr. Sheppard civilly for failure to use a turn
signal. Later in the encounter, one of the officers did write
a ticket for that civil offense, which is Exhibit 1.
Small activated his cruiser's blue lights and brought his
cruiser to a stop. All three officers got out of the cruiser
and approached Mr. Sheppard's now-parked vehicle. Mr.
Sheppard was the only occupant of the car.
The Officers' Dealings with Mr. Sheppard About the Civil
Small approached the driver's door, where he observed
that Mr. Sheppard was sweating and nervous. Officer Small
asked Mr. Sheppard for his driver's license and
registration. Mr. Sheppard had difficulty removing the
registration from a plastic envelope, asking Officer Small to
assist, which Officer Small declined to do. Eventually Mr.
Sheppard extracted the registration.
of the earlier queries, the officers knew that both the
registration and the driver's license were current.
Nevertheless, Officer Small returned to the cruiser to run a
confirmatory check on the license and registration, and to
run certain other queries that he had not run before. Among
those queries was a request for Mr. Sheppard's Board of
Probation criminal record (" BOP"). See Exhibit 5,
a Department of Criminal Justice Information Services showing
the date and time of various queries. A review of that BOP
confirmed that Mr. Sheppard was on probation, a fact that
Officer Small already knew. During the few minutes that this
process took, one of Officer Small's partners remained
with Mr. Sheppard and his motor vehicle, engaging in
Prolongation of the Stop
Small returned shortly to the driver's window of Mr.
Sheppard's car. He asked Mr. Sheppard how his probation
was going, and specifically whether the probationary terms
included any areas from which he was to stay away, or any
curfew. Mr. Sheppard answered these questions cooperatively,
but was still sweating.
Small asked Mr. Sheppard if there were any weapons in his
car. Mr. Sheppard responded, " No, why would there
be?" Officer Small reminded Mr. Sheppard that he
personally had arrested Mr. Sheppard three years earlier for
having a weapon in a motor vehicle. Officer Small asked if
Mr. Sheppard had any weapons on him, and he said no. Officer
Small asked if Mr. Sheppard would mind if he checked, and Mr.
Sheppard replied that he wanted to go home.
the other officers asked Mr. Sheppard why he was parking
where he parked. He gave two different answers: that there is
no parking available near his house, so sometimes he parked
here and took an Uber home; and that he was visiting a nearby
friend. Officer Small believed these two answers to be
inconsistent, and also believed that ...