United States District Court, D. Massachusetts
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER ON DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO
ALLISON D. BURROUGHS U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE
January 25, 2018, a grand jury returned an indictment
charging Jamie Figueroa (“Figueroa”) with being a
felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition in violation
of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1). [ECF No. 1]. Currently pending
before the Court is Figueroa's motion to suppress
evidence obtained by police when he was stopped on January 9,
2018. [ECF No. 78]. For the reasons set forth below, the
motion to suppress [ECF No. 78] is DENIED.
following facts are drawn from the arrest report, [ECF No.
78-1 (“Arrest Report”)], prepared by Trooper
Keith Ledin (“Ledin”), as well as the motion
hearing held on October 4, 2019. At that hearing, the Court
heard testimony from Ledin and Trooper Paul Dunderdale
(“Dunderdale”). The parties also submitted images
and a map of the area, [Exs. 2, 3, 4, 5], and security
footage of the stop, [Ex. 6
January 9, 2018, Massachusetts State Police Sergeant Frank
Walls, Ledin, and Dunderdale, all of whom were members of the
South Eastern Massachusetts Gang Task Force, were patrolling
a high crime area in Fall River, Massachusetts, in an
unmarked police cruiser. [Arrest Report at 2]. At
approximately 1:30 p.m., the officers noticed a black
Cadillac SUV that stopped in the street and held up traffic.
[Id.]. The officers ran a registration check and
determined that the car was registered to an older white male
from Georgetown, Massachusetts. [Id.]. Because the
car had interfered with traffic and neither the driver nor
passenger matched the description of the registered
owner, the officers began to follow the SUV. [Id.].
While maneuvering their cruiser, the officers briefly lost
sight of the vehicle. [Id.; Hearing Tr. at 30:2-
11]. When they saw the SUV again a few minutes later, it was
moving slowly and the driver was on his phone and looking
around. [Arrest Report at 2-3; Footage]. The passenger was no
longer in the vehicle. [Arrest Report at 3].
officers continued to monitor the SUV, which pulled into the
parking lot of a Country Farms convenience store.
[Id.]. The driver got out of the SUV and looked
inside the trunk. [Id.; Footage]. He then exited the
parking lot on foot, leaving the vehicle in the parking lot,
and walked to a house down the street. [Arrest Report at 3;
Footage]. The officers moved their patrol car to the Country
Farms parking lot. [Arrest Report at 3].
time, the officers regained sight of the passenger, whom they
had not seen since they first started following the SUV. The
passenger entered the Country Farms parking lot on foot with
Figueroa. [Id.; Footage]. After speaking briefly
with Figueroa, the passenger left him in the parking lot and
walked to the same house that the driver had entered
previously. [Arrest Report at 3; Footage]. The officers
observed the passenger pacing back and forth on the
house's porch until the driver exited the house and met
him. [Arrest Report at 3; Hearing Tr. at 35:11- 40:19].
Figueroa remained at the Country Farms parking lot, where
officers observed him checking his phone and repeatedly
entering and exiting the store without purchasing anything.
[Arrest Report at 3; Hearing Tr. at 12:5-7]. The officers
thought that both the passenger and Figueroa were acting
anxious or nervous. [Arrest Report at 3]. To avoid Figueroa
suspecting that he was being surveilled, the officers moved
their cruiser to a driveway across the street, which provided
a clear view of the parking lot and Figueroa. [Arrest
minutes later, the driver and passenger walked back to the
Country Farms parking lot from the house. [Arrest Report at
3; Hearing Tr. at 40:20-41:10]. When they entered the parking
lot, Figueroa walked towards the SUV. [Arrest Report at 3;
Hearing Tr. at 42:15-44:10; Footage]. Figueroa did not greet
the driver, whom he had not previously been seen interacting
with, and did not acknowledge the passenger. [Hearing Tr. at
12:18-13:9; Footage]. The driver and passenger returned to
their seats in the SUV, and Figueroa got in the back seat.
[Arrest Report at 3; Hearing Tr. at 13:13-22, 44:11-16;
officers thought that the parties might be engaging in a drug
deal. [Arrest Report at 3; Hearing Tr. at 44:17-45:6].
Trooper Ledin noticed that the driver and passenger had their
bodies turned towards Figueroa in the SUV, as though in
conversation. [Arrest Report at 4; Hearing Tr. at 66:12-22].
The officers pulled into the parking lot and positioned their
cruiser behind the SUV. [Footage]. As the officers opened the
doors of the cruiser, Figueroa opened the door to the SUV and
started to exit the vehicle. [Hearing Tr. at 14:16-15:18,
55:4-9; Footage]. Figueroa was stopped by Dunderdale, who
identified himself as a state trooper and told Figueroa to
put his hands up. [Hearing Tr. at 15:16-16:5, 55:4-9;
time, Dunderdale noticed a large object in Figueroa's
right front pocket. [Hearing Tr. at 56:9-58:14]. Dunderdale
asked Figueroa, “Is that a gun?” and Figueroa
confirmed that it was. [Arrest Report at 4; Hearing Tr. at
15:22-16:8, 56:9-58:14]. Dunderdale told Figueroa to get on
his knees and to put his hands behind his back. [Hearing Tr.
at 58:6-14]. Figueroa complied, and Dunderdale removed the
firearm and placed it on the SUV's roof. [Arrest Report
at 4; Footage; Hearing Tr. at 15:16-16:5, 58:13-16,
59:11-16]. When Dunderdale asked Figueroa if he had a license
for the weapon, he said that he did not. [Arrest Report at
4]. Dunderdale cleared the firearm, which had one round in
the chamber and five in the magazine. [Id.].
officers then transported Figueroa for booking.
[Id.]. During the drive, Figueroa told the officers
that he was a high-ranking member of the Latin Kings and that
he was in violation of federal probation out of Rhode Island.
[Id. at 4-5].
Fourth Amendment of the Constitution protects citizens
against unreasonable searches and seizures. U.S. Const.
amend. IV. If, however, an officer observes unusual conduct
which leads him to believe that a suspect may be engaging in
criminal activity and may be armed and dangerous, “he
is entitled for the protection of himself and others in the
area to conduct a carefully limited search of the outer
clothing of such persons in an attempt to discovery weapons
which might be used to assault him.” Terry v.
Ohio, 392 U.S. 1, 30-31 (1968).
parties agree that there was an investigatory stop that began
when Dunderdale identified himself as a state trooper and
told Figueroa, who was exiting the SUV, to stop, but disagree
as to whether the investigatory stop was reasonable. [Hearing
Tr. at 70:24-71:17]. “[I]n reviewing the reasonableness
of a Terry stop, the court must first consider
whether the officer's action was justified at its
inception; and, second, whether the action taken was
reasonably related in scope to the circumstances which
justified the interference in the first place.”
United States v. Stanley, 915 F.2d 54, 55 (1st Cir.
1990) (citing United States v. Sharpe, 470 U.S. 675,