United States District Court, D. Massachusetts
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER ON DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO
ALLISON D. BURROUGHS U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE
September 11, 2019, a grand jury returned an indictment
charging Stephan Rosser-Stewart
(“Rosser-Stewart”) with: conspiracy to Interfere
with Commerce by Robbery in violation of 18 U.S.C. §
1951(a) (Count I); interfering with Commerce by Robbery in
violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1951(a) and 18 U.S.C. § 2
(Count II); discharging, Brandishing, Using and Carrying a
Firearm in Relation to a Crime of Violence in violation of 18
U.S.C. § 924(c)(1)(A) and 18 U.S.C. § 2 (Count IX),
and being a Felon in Possession of a Firearm and Ammunition
in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1) (Count X). [ECF
No. 55]. Currently pending before the Court is
Rosser-Stewart's motion to suppress evidence obtained by
police when he was stopped on January 26, 2019. [ECF No. 75].
For the reasons set forth below, the motion to suppress, [ECF
No. 75], is DENIED.
following facts are drawn from the arrest report, [ECF No.
91-4 (“Arrest Report”)], prepared by
Massachusetts State Police Trooper Eric Resendes
(“Resendes”), pertinent Brockton Police reports,
[ECF No. 91-3 (“Brockton Reports”)], and
transcripts of relevant portions of Brockton Police radio
communications, [ECF No. 91-1 (“Turret Tape”)].
evening of January 26, 2019, Resendes was on patrol in the
city of Brockton in a marked police cruiser. [Arrest Report
at 2]. At approximately 7:15 p.m., Resendes received radio
transmissions indicating that officers from the Brockton
Police Department were pursuing a vehicle occupied by four
black males wearing hooded sweatshirts, who were believed to
have robbed a T-Mobile store at gunpoint. [Id.].
Officer Robinson of the Brockton Police communicated that the
suspects had shot at officers while fleeing. [Brockton
Reports at 2, 10]. The vehicle was subsequently abandoned
following a crash at the intersection of Bristol Avenue and
Carl Avenue. [Arrest Report at 2]. Upon proceeding to the
area to assist with a search for the suspects, Resendes
learned that Brockton Police had apprehended two of the four
suspects, but had not recovered any of the suspects'
weapons. [Arrest Report at 2; Turret Tape at 7]. One of the
remaining suspects was described as being about
5'8” to 6' tall and having long braided hair,
with a medium build and dark complexion. [Turret Tape at 8].
approximately 8:03 p.m., Resendes observed a black male with
braided hair, wearing a hooded sweatshirt, standing
5'11” in height, with a medium build and dark
complexion cross the street and walk up the steps to a
residence at 149 Carl Avenue, approximately a quarter mile
away from where the suspects' vehicle was abandoned.
[Arrest Report at 1-2]. The man was “sweating
profusely, ” despite not wearing a jacket on a
late-January night, and was “walking around on Carl
Ave. knocking on doors.” [Brockton Reports at 3].
Resendes stopped his cruiser in front of the residence,
rolled down the window, and asked the male, later identified
as Rosser-Stewart, if he lived at the house. [Arrest Report
at 2]. Rosser-Stewart said that he did not. [Id.].
Resendes stepped out of his cruiser and asked Rosser-Stewart
what he was doing. [Id.]. Rosser- Stewart said that
he had gotten into a fight with his girlfriend, who had made
him get out of her car, and that he was trying to get home.
[Id.]. Resendes then asked Rosser-Stewart if he
lived in Brockton. [Id.]. Rosser-Stewart said that
he lived in Boston. [Id.].
instructed Rosser-Stewart to raise his hands and not to move.
[Id.]. He then approached Rosser-Stewart, placed him
in handcuffs, and performed a pat-frisk for weapons.
[Id.]. Resendes placed Rosser-Stewart “in the
rear seat of [his] cruiser . . . and informed him that he was
not under arrest, however he would be detained until
[Resendes] could rule out that he was not a suspect of a
recent crime.” [Id.]. Resendes radioed State
Police dispatch and learned that Rosser-Stewart's
criminal history included armed robbery and illegal
possession of a firearm. [Id.].
officers from the Brockton Police Department then arrived on
the scene to assist Resendes. [Id. at 3]. One
officer sent a photo of Rosser-Stewart to a Brockton
detective, who was interviewing a cooperating suspect.
[Brockton Reports at 12]. After the cooperating suspect
confirmed that Rosser-Stewart was one of the suspects
involved in the armed robbery, officers from the Brockton
Police placed Rosser-Stewart under arrest and took him into
custody. [Id. at 3, 12; Arrest Report at 3].
Fourth Amendment of the Constitution protects citizens
against unreasonable searches and seizures. U.S. Const.
amend. IV. Law enforcement officers “may stop and
briefly detain an individual for investigative purposes if
[they] have a reasonable suspicion that criminal activity is
afoot.” United States v. Dapolito, 713 F.3d
141, 147 (1st Cir. 2013) (citing United States v.
Sokolow, 490 U.S. 1, 7 (1989), Terry v. Ohio,
392 U.S. 1, 30 (1968)). “An evaluation of the
constitutionality of an investigatory stop involves two
steps: (1) whether the initial stop was justified and (2)
‘whether it was reasonably related in scope to the
circumstances which justified the inference in the first
place.'” United States v. Mohamed, 630
F.3d 1, 6-7 (1st Cir. 2010) (quoting Schubert v. City of
Springfield, 589 F.3d 496, 501 (1st Cir. 2009)).
The Stop Was Justified at Its Inception
investigatory stop was justified at its inception.
Rosser-Stewart argues that Resendes “lacked reasonable
articulable suspicion to detain” him. [ECF No. 75 at
1]. To establish reasonable suspicion, “the likelihood
of criminal activity need not rise to the level required for
probable cause, and it falls considerably short of satisfying
a preponderance of the evidence standard.” United
States v. Arvizu, 534 U.S. 266, 274 (2002). Officers
“must be able to point to specific and articulable
facts which, taken together, ” justify an investigatory
stop. Terry, 392 U.S. at 21. The Court considers the
facts “available to the officer at the moment of the
seizure, ” taking into account the totality of the
circumstances. Terry, 392 U.S. at 22; see United
States v. Trullo, 809 F.2d 108, 111 (1st Cir. 1987).
under the totality of the circumstances, Resendes had
reasonable suspicion to stop and detain Rosser-Stewart. At
the time of their encounter, Resendes was searching for a
black male with long braided hair, about 5'8” to
6' tall, with a medium build and dark complexion, wearing
a hooded sweatshirt. [Arrest Report at 2; Turret Tape at 8].
Resendes encountered Rosser-Stewart on Carl Avenue,
approximately a quarter mile away from where the
suspects' vehicle had been abandoned roughly thirty
minutes prior. [Arrest Report at 2; ECF 91-5]. See United
States v. Arthur, 764 F.3d 92, 97 (1st Cir. 2014)
(finding that an investigatory stop “[j]ust
minutes” after a robbery was justified “when the
suspects, who mostly matched the description, were
encountered just an eighth of a mile from the crime
scene”); see also United States v.
Cabreras-Cañuelas, No. 15-cr-00665, 2016 WL
7985788, at *4 (D.P.R. Oct. 3, 2016) (“A reasonable
officer could certainly factor [the defendant's] temporal
and geographic proximity to the scene of a serious, violent
crime when calculating whether he was a suspicious
person.”). Resendes recognized that he satisfied the
description of the suspect in the recent robbery. [Arrest
Report at 2; ECF 91-5]. See Arthur, 764 F.3d at
97-98 (finding that officers had probable cause based upon
“description of the number of suspects and their race,
gender, clothing, and approximate location”). This was
sufficient to warrant the initial stop.
The Stop Was ...