Heard: December 5, 2017.
received and sworn to in the South Boston Division of the
Boston Municipal Court Department on July 10, 2012. A
pretrial motion to suppress evidence was heard by Ernest L.
Sarason, Jr., J., and following transfer to the Central
Division of the Boston Municipal Court Department, the case
was tried before Tracy-Lee Lyons, J.
review by the Appeals Court, the Supreme Judicial Court
granted leave to obtain further appellate review.
Hook for the defendant.
M. Campbell, Assistant District Attorney, for the
Present: Gants, C.J., Lenk, Gaziano, Lowy, Budd, Cypher,
& Kafker, JJ.
address the authority of the police to stop and perform a
Terry-type search of a motor vehicle after an
anonymous 911 caller reported that the driver of that vehicle
threatened the caller, a fellow motorist, with a gun. The
driver, defendant Anthony F. Manha, appeals from a conviction
of assault with a dangerous weapon. The Appeals Court
affirmed in an unpublished memorandum and order pursuant to
its rule 1:28. Commonwealth v. Manha, 91
Mass.App.Ct. 1105 (2017). We granted the defendant's
application for further appellate review. He claims that the
police lacked probable cause to stop him and that, therefore,
the pellet gun found subsequently in his vehicle should have
been suppressed. We conclude that, in these circumstances,
the information that the police possessed gave them
reasonable suspicion to stop and perform a protective sweep
of the defendant's motor vehicle, and that, given the
officers' safety concerns, reasonable suspicion was all
that was required. We therefore affirm the conviction.
present the facts as found by the motion judge. On July 9,
2012, while on patrol, Trooper John Guest of the State police
received a radio call of a then-ongoing 911 call from a
motorist regarding a road rage incident. According to the 911
caller, an individual in another motor vehicle had pointed a
gun at her as she traveled southbound on Route 93 in Boston.
She described the gunman as a white male in his forties who
was wearing glasses. She further provided a description of
his vehicle, a gray Jeep Cherokee, along with its
registration number, location, and direction of travel.
on this information, Guest located the vehicle and followed
it for a few miles (observing no traffic violations or other
criminal activity) before signaling to the driver to stop.
Guest and two other troopers who had since arrived drew their
weapons and ordered the driver, the defendant, to get out of
the vehicle. A patfrisk of the defendant's person
revealed no weapons. The troopers placed the defendant in a
police vehicle and performed a protective sweep of the Jeep.
In the rear area of the vehicle they discovered a black case.
Inside they found a pellet gun in the shape of a hand gun.
review of the denial of the defendant's motion to
suppress, we accept the motion judge's factual findings
unless clearly erroneous, and independently apply the law to
those findings to determine whether actions of the police
were constitutionally justified. See Commonwealth v.
Molina, 467 Mass. 65, 72 (2014); Commonwealth v.
Wilson, 441 Mass. 390, 393 (2004) .