United States District Court, D. Rhode Island
MEMORANDUM & ORDER
J. MCCONNELL, JR., UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Mondrez Thompson has moved to suppress evidence seized
following a traffic stop and search by the Rhode Island State
Police. ECF No. 24. Because the police did not measurably
prolong the stop in violation of Rodriguez v. United
States, 135 S.Ct. 1609 (2015), and because Mr.
Thompson's other arguments do not require excluding the
evidence seized, the Court DENIES the Defendants' Motion
Thompson was driving north on 1-95 from North Carolina to
Providence. Tr. 160:5-161:8. At about 7:45 p.m., between exits
five and six, Rhode Island State Police Trooper Garrett
Hassett observed Mr. Thompson's Nissan Pathfinder twice
veer several inches over the fog line into the breakdown
lane. Id. at 13:12-14:1, No. 56:18-21, 83:16-18. At
7:50 p.m., Trooper Hassett ran a registry inquiry on the
vehicle's license plate to check the vehicle's
information. Id. at 14:9-13; Gov't Ex. 3.
Suspecting the driver may be impaired, Trooper Hassett then
pulled over the vehicle. Id. at 4:9-19; 14:17-19;
Hassett approached the car and spoke with Mr. Thompson. He
asked for Mr. Thompson's license and registration! asked
if Mr. Thompson knew why the trooper had pulled him over; and
asked if he had been drinking. Id. at 22:15-20;
166:1-5. Mr. Thompson said he had not been drinking and that
he had been driving for thirteen hours, showing Trooper
Hassett a plastic bag with empty energy drinks. Id.
at 22:21-23:2; 166:13-18. Trooper Hassett asked Mr. Thompson
where he was coming from and where he was going; Mr. Thompson
stated he was coming from North Carolina to go to a family
function in Providence. Id. at 23:2-4; 166:6-12.
Hassett then asked whether Mr. Thompson had ever been
arrested before. Id. at 166:19-20. Mr. Thompson
replied, "What does that have to do with a traffic
stop?" Id. at 166:21-22, Trooper Hassett
instructed, "Just answer the question."
Id. at 166:22-23. At that point, Mr. Thompson
replied, "No." Id. at 166:23; see
Id. at 167:19-168:3. Mr. Thompson testified that his
"No" was a refusal to answer the question-not a
statement that he had no criminal history. Id. at
168:4-9. Trooper Hassett interpreted the "No" as a
statement that Mr. Thompson had no criminal history.
Id. at 23:5-6. Trooper Hassett then asked if Mr.
Thompson had any firearms or contraband in the car, which Mr.
Thompson denied. Id. at 23:6-9; 168:10-15.
point, Trooper Hassett was satisfied that Mr. Thompson was
not operating under the influence of alcohol. Id. at
94:3-6, 128:16-129:4. Although Mr. Thompson could have been
operating under the influence of some other substance,
Trooper Hassett decided not to investigate along those lines.
Id. at 94:7-16. However, Trooper Hassett had not yet
decided whether he was going to issue a ticket to Mr.
Thompson for the observed lane violation. Id. at
Hassett returned to his car and ran two checks on the
operator. Id. at 29:12-17. First, at 7:54 p.m., he
ran Mr. Thompson's driver's license and registration.
Id. at 31:6-15; Gov't Ex. 3. The check told
Trooper Hassett that Mr. Thompson's license was active
and that he had no warrants, Id. at 31:23-32:7. The
second check, run a minute later at 7:55 p.m., was a criminal
background check through the National Criminal Information
Center database. Id. at 32:16-25; Gov't Ex. 3.
This check yielded an extensive but dated criminal background
for Mr. Thompson. Id. at 33:1-2; see
Gov't Ex. 4. Trooper Hassett briefly reviewed the history
for a minute or two, admittedly not in depth, before
returning to Mr. Thompson's car. Id. at 33:5-10;
see Id. at 81:16-21 (recognizing length, but not
age, of criminal history).
that Mr. Thompson had lied to him about his criminal history,
Trooper Hassett returned to the Pathfinder and asked Mr.
Thompson to exit the car. Id. at 40:25-41:12; 172:15.
Mr. Thompson at first protested, asking why he needed to step
out of the car; after some thirty seconds, he relented and
exited the car. Id. at 41:9-23;
Hassett escorted Mr. Thompson to the rear of his vehicle and
asked him why he lied about his criminal history.
Id. at 42:10-22; 174:18-21. Mr. Thompson stated that
he did not lie and that his record was old, and asked how
this related to the traffic stop; Trooper Hassett again
questioned him about why he concealed his past. Id.
at 42:20-25, 174:22-24, 179:21-24. Mr. Thompson began to grow
"agitated" and "started flailing his arms
around." Id. at 43:3-11. Mr. Thompson responded
that he was a business owner, had a nonprofit, and was a
husband and father. Id. at 174:24-175:1, Trooper
Hassett then pressed Mr. Thompson a third time about why he
lied; Mr. Thompson gave him the same response. Id.
at 175:1-3, 174:4-13.
Hassett then asked Mr. Thompson what he had in his trunk, and
asked to search it. Id. at 175:10-12. Mr. Thompson
stated that he only had luggage and clothes, Id.
Trooper Hassett informed Mr. Thompson that he would not allow
him to leave until he consented to a search. Id. at
175-12-14. Mr. Thompson opened his trunk. Id. at
175:15. The search did not yield anything except clothing and
sneakers. Id. at 175:16-19.
Hassett was not satisfied and told Mr. Thompson that he
believed he was hiding something. Id. at 175:20-21.
Trooper Hassett then asked Mr. Thompson if he had anything
inside the vehicle, intending to inquire into contraband.
Id. at 44:22-45:7. Mr. Thompson replied that he had
no contraband in the vehicle, and that he had his bvisiness
papers in the glove compartment. Id. at 45:7-10.
Trooper Hassett then asked for consent to search the vehicle!
Mr. Thompson, however, consented only to a search of the
glove box. Id. at 45:11-14
Hassett left Mr. Thompson at the rear of the car with Trooper
Konieczny watching him. Id. at 46:23-24; 176:8-9. As
Trooper Hassett began to open the passenger door to conduct
the consensual search of the glove box, Mr. Thompson began to
back up. Id. at 176:20-23. Trooper Konieczny
instructed Mr. Thompson not to move. Id. at
176:23-24. Mr. Thompson raised his hands and began to back up
before turning and running away from the troopers and onto
the highway. Id. at 176:24-177:2. Trooper Hassett
pursued Mr. Thompson, tased him, and brought him back to the
side of the highway. Id. at 177:11-18.
Mr. Thompson now detained and under the supervision of West
Greenwich police, who had responded to the scene, Trooper
Hassett began to search the vehicle. Id. at
64:18-20. He looked down and saw two Gucci bags on the front
seat. Id. at 47:19-22. Trooper Hassett saw a
flashlight sitting on top of one of the bags designed to
attach to the rail of a pistol. Id. at 49:16-18. He
secured the flashlight and became concerned that there might
be a weapon in the vehicle. Id. at 52:19-53:3, He
discovered a loaded Glock pistol under the front passenger
seat. Id. at 64:20-65:6. Then, Trooper Hassett found
a black backpack on the rear middle bench seat, which
contained camouflage gear, night-vision goggles, a machete,
handcuffs, pepper spray, a taser, a garbage bag, and a pistol
holster. Id. at 65:7-16, Because it was getting
dark, the police had the car towed back to the police
barracks. Id. at 65:20-66:4. Later an inventory
search of Mr. Thompson's car revealed about a dozen
firearms, hundreds of rounds of ammunition, smoke grenades,
and drugs, including marijuana and ecstasy. Id. at
66:5-131 see Gov't Ex. 1.
Thompson was indicted for three felonies: one count of being
a felon in possession of firearms, one count of possession
with intent to distribute 3, 4.
methylenedioxyrnethamphetamine (ecstasy), and one count of
possession of a firearm in furtherance of drug trafficking.
ECF No. 4. Mr. Thompson moved to suppress the evidence
uncovered during, and because of, the traffic stop. ECF ...