United States District Court, D. Massachusetts
RYA W. ZOBEL SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Vasily Hardy is charged in one count with being a felon in
possession of a firearm and ammunition. 18 U.S.C. §
922(g)(1). He challenges the impoundment of his vehicle and
moves to suppress the firearm and ammunition seized during
the subsequent inventory search.
Findings of Fact 
November 14, 2018, at approximately 10:30 p.m., Wellesley
Police Officer Travis Dixon (hereafter “Dixon”)
observed a vehicle commit a series of traffic violations on
Route 9 in Wellesley, Massachusetts. He contacted the
Wellesley Police Department ("WPD") to run the
license plate and learned that the car was registered to
defendant and that defendant's license had been
suspended. Dixon activated his police lights and defendant
immediately pulled over into a metered parking space on
Washington Street in Newton, Massachusetts.
approached the vehicle and asked for defendant's
identification. The defendant was alone in the car. Dixon
then learned via radio dispatch that there was an active
warrant for defendant from Lowell District Court. Meanwhile,
WPD Officer Matthew Wall (hereafter “Wall”)
overheard the radio transmissions regarding the traffic stop
and arrived at the scene.
defendant waited in his car, the two officers spoke briefly
and decided to arrest defendant for the active warrant and
for driving with a suspended license. Dixon called for a tow
truck to impound defendant's vehicle. The officers
arrested defendant and placed him in Wall's police
cruiser. Wall drove defendant to the Wellesley Police station
while Dixon remained at the scene. From the backseat of the
cruiser, defendant asked, “What happens with my
vehicle?” Wall replied, “Your vehicle's going
to be towed, sir.” The defendant initially said,
“Okay, ” but several seconds later asked,
“Can you leave my car there so it doesn't have to
get towed?” Wall responded, “No sir, we
can't, ” and explained that Dixon would complete an
inventory search of his vehicle prior to the tow. At no point
did defendant suggest the name or availability of another
person to take charge of the vehicle.
Dixon's subsequent search of the car, he found a Sig
Sauer semiautomatic pistol and sixteen rounds of ammunition
inside a backpack in the backseat. He filled out the WPD
“Motor Vehicle Inventory Form, ” listing these
and other items found in the car. See Docket # 36-2.
Sergeant Robert Gallagher (hereafter
“Gallagher”), the shift supervisor, arrived on
the scene where he photographed and collected the pistol and
Wellesley Police station, defendant received his
Miranda warnings twice, signed a Miranda
warnings form, and agreed to speak with Dixon and Sergeant
Gallagher. The defendant admitted that the vehicle, firearm,
and ammunition were his.
Constitution permits arresting officers to impound [without a
warrant], pursuant to standard procedures, an arrested
person's automobile that might otherwise be left
abandoned.” United States v. Ramos-Morales,
981 F.2d 625, 627 (1st Cir. 1992). This “community
caretaking exception” to the Fourth Amendment's
warrant requirement recognizes law enforcement's
responsibility to protect a car from theft and vandalism and
to remove vehicles that impede traffic or threaten public
safety and convenience. United States v. Coccia, 446
F.3d 233, 238 (1st Cir. 2006).
decision to impound an arrestee's car must be reasonable
under the circumstances and not driven by investigatory
motives. “The reasonableness analysis does not hinge
solely on any particular factor, ” but takes into
account all of the facts and circumstances. Coccia,
446 F.3d at 239. In particular, courts consider the existence
of and adherence to established criteria, such as written
policy and/or standard routine. See also United States v.
Sanchez, 535 F.Supp.2d 216, 221 (D. Mass. 2008),
aff'd, 612 F.3d 1 (1st Cir. 2010) (“The
Supreme Court has emphasized the importance of standardized
criteria or established routine ... the latter clause
suggesting that the policy need not be in writing”)
(internal citations and quotation marks omitted).
vehicle is properly impounded, the police may conduct a
warrantless inventory search of the vehicle, including any
compartments or closed containers. The purpose of an
inventory search is to protect “the property of the
owner …, the police from claims resulting from lost or
stolen property, and the police and the public from dangerous
instrumentalities stored inside.” Colorado v.
Bertine, 479 U.S. 367, 373 (1987). For an inventory
search to be valid and the evidence discovered admissible,
officers must adhere to standardized criteria and procedures.
Florida v. Wells, 495 U.S. 1, 4 (1990).
challenges the initial impoundment of his vehicle and
therefore argues that the fruits of the subsequent inventory
search, including the ...