RUNNING FROM THE POLICE IS ONE FACTOR THAT MAY GIVE RISE TO REASONABLE SUSPICION
In Com v. Garcia (2015), the Massachusetts Appeals Court upheld a motion judge’s denial of a motion to suppress. The motion judge had found that the police observed several indicia of suspicious activity, namely: (1) the defendant was walking in a known high-crime area; (2) the defendant was holding his waistband in such a way as to suggest the possibility of a concealed handgun; (3) the defendant repeatedly glanced over his shoulder at the officers; (4) the defendant “bladed” his stance so that one side of his body could not be seen; and (5) the defendant fled when officers asked to speak with him.
While noting that simply running from the police does not, without more, give rise to reasonable suspicion, the Appeals Court held that the denial of suppression was proper in light of the entire picture. “While . . . flight from the police alone is insufficient to support a conclusion of reasonable suspicion of criminal activity based on articulable facts . . . it remains a fact that such action, though not unlawful, may well be suspicious. . . . Where there is other suspicious behavior, flight from the police may be included in the reasonable suspicion calculus.”
The Court also reiterated its concern about overreliance on the “known high-crime area” factor.
On a procedural note, the Court also held that the defendant’s plea and jury waiver were valid despite the judge’s “thin” colloquy, because the defendant had signed forms and certificates as well.
Attorney Kevin D. Quinlan
Uxbridge, Worcester County, Massachusetts