STATE v. KYLE PETERSON, SC 19414
Judicial District of New Britain
Criminal; Search & Seizure; Whether Appellate Court Properly Determined that Police Lacked Reasonable and Articulable Suspicion Justifying Defendant’s Detention. New Britain police conducted surveillance of the defendant's residence after receiving information that he was selling marijuana in large quantities. On October 20, 2010, the police observed the defendant depart in his vehicle with a white, weighted plastic bag in his possession and pull into a driveway of 33 Thorniley Street, a location where he was believed to have delivered drugs once before. After observing the defendant begin speaking to an unknown individual through the passenger side window, the police blocked the defendant's car in the driveway. One officer ordered the defendant out of his vehicle and conducted a patdown search of the defendant's person. Another officer then searched the car, discovering a white plastic bag on the floor behind the passenger seat. Inside that bag were two ziplock bags containing marijuana. The defendant was arrested on several drug charges. He moved to suppress the evidence seized from his vehicle, claiming that his fourth amendment rights were violated because the police did not have a reasonable and articulable suspicion that he was engaged in or about to engage in criminal activity when he was detained in the driveway. The trial court denied the motion to suppress, and the defendant entered a conditional nolo contendere plea to one count of possession of a controlled substance with intent to sell and appealed the conviction. The Appellate Court (153 Conn. App. 358) concluded that the investigatory stop was not justified and that the evidence should have been suppressed. The court determined that the police had no information or observations about the defendant on October 20, 2010, that would have particularized their general suspicion that he was delivering marijuana to 33 Thorniley Street on that day. The court explained that, absent any observations of conduct consistent with drug activity or specific information suggesting that the defendant was there to effectuate a drug transaction, the police could not have known what, if anything, the defendant was doing at that location aside from talking to someone. Accordingly, the court reversed the conviction and remanded the case to the trial court with direction to vacate the defendant's plea and grant the motion to suppress. The Supreme Court will now decide whether the Appellate Court properly determined that the totality of the circumstances did not provide sufficient reasonable and articulable suspicion for police to detain the defendant.