Does Lack of Reasonable Suspicion of Drug Activity Justify the Stopping of a Van by Officers ?
In State v. Delagraza (2001), 144 Ohio App.3d 474, 760 N.E.2d 860, the officers stopped a vehicle based upon a hunch that the occupants and another individual, Allan Harris, were engaging in a drug transaction. Id. at 476.
Prior to the stop, the officers observed Harris on three separate occasions, in an area known for drug activity, stop driving motorists, approach their vehicles, speak with them, conduct some sort of transaction, and then walk away. Id.
After the third vehicle pulled away, the officers observed a van, in which the defendant was an occupant, park at the curb near Harris. Id.
Harris approached the vehicle and began talking. the officers, believing Harris was engaged in another drug transaction, pulled their police vehicle in front of the van. Id.
They then witnessed the occupants of the vehicle bend over, put their hands down and move them around. Id. As a result, the police effectuated a stop of the vehicle and Harris. Id.
In Delagraza, the Court considering the aforementioned factual findings, determined that the trial court did not err in granting the defendant's motion to suppress. Id. at 479.
In so finding, the court noted that the officers never observed Harris with any drugs, did not see him supply any motorists with drugs, did not witness any motorists hand Harris money, and observed no exchange between Harris and the defendant. Id.
Accordingly, the court determined the officers lack reasonable suspicion of drug activity to effectu ate the stop of the van. Id.