Brother v. State

In Brother v. State, No. PD-1820-02, 166 S.W.3d 255 (Tex. Crim. App. June 29, 2005), the court affirmed a conviction based on a traffic stop triggered by a citizen who called 911 on her cell phone to report erratic driving. Id. The citizen, who continued to monitor the defendant's driving by following him in her car, kept in contact with the 911 dispatcher until the arresting officer stopped the defendant. The citizen testified at the suppression hearing that the dispatcher instructed her to follow appellant and activate her hazard lights so that the responding officer would be able to identify the correct vehicle. The citizen remained at the scene after the stop, and she provided the officer with her contact information. Id. Relying on the information supplied by the citizen to the dispatcher, the officer testified that he was able to locate and identify the vehicle. The officer also testified that the facts relayed to him through the dispatcher caused him to believe that the defendant was driving while intoxicated. Id. In upholding the denial of the motion to suppress, the court concluded that "a stop based on facts supplied by a citizen-eyewitness, which are adequately corroborated by the arresting officer, do not run afoul of the Fourth Amendment." Id. The court held that, under the totality of the circumstances, the stop was reasonable under the Fourth Amendment. Id. at *10. In Brother v. State, 85 S.W.3d 377 (Tex. App.--Fort Worth 2002), aff'd 166 S.W.3d 255 (Tex. Crim. App. 2005), the appellant challenged the officer's stop claiming that because the officer himself had not personally observed Brother's erratic driving and instead relied on a citizen-informant's 911 call to police dispatch, the officer lacked reasonable suspicion to stop him. Id. at 381-82. In Brother, the citizen-informant continued to follow the vehicle while remaining on her cell phone with the 911 dispatcher until the officer stopped the suspect. Additionally, the citizen gave Brother's license plate number to the dispatcher and turned on her hazard lights while following Brother as instructed by the dispatcher. The officer said he was able to correctly identify the vehicle because he had the license plate number and a visual of the citizen's car with her hazard lights on. Both the arresting officer and the citizen testified to these facts at the suppression hearing. Id. at 379-80. The trial court denied Brother's motion to suppress, the Court affirmed the trial court, and the court of criminal appeals upheld our decision. Id. at 385.