Brown v. State (1997)

In Brown v. State, 944 P.2d 1168, 1171 (Wyo. 1997), a police officer, suspecting that he was witnessing drunk driving, stopped a vehicle that was being driven erratically. About an hour earlier, the officer had received a report of an armed robbery perpetrated by two black males. As he approached the stopped car, the officer became alarmed because he could not see anyone in it. He then saw two black males slouched down in the front seat so their heads were not visible above the seat. He ceased his approach to the vehicle and called for backup. When other officers arrived, they ordered the two men out of the car at gunpoint. The men were handcuffed and placed in separate police cars. In response to a request for identification, Brown lied. When the truth of his identity was learned, Brown was arrested for interference with a police officer. While Brown was being booked into jail, police discovered in his clothing money stolen in the armed robbery. Brown, 944 P.2d at 1170. Brown filed a motion to suppress the evidence that was obtained after he was ordered out of the car at gunpoint. The district court found Brown's arrest lawful and Brown appealed. Id. In affirming the district court's decision, the Court described the analysis that must be followed in reviewing such police-citizen encounters: To decide this issue, we must consider whether the facts the officer learned during the first few moments of his investigation along with the information in the radio transmission are sufficient to justify the use of the intrusive measures. In this regard the case at bar is notably similar to Medrano v. State, 914 P.2d 804 (Wyo. 1996), in that during the police investigation of both cases new facts came to light that created a new suspicion. In Medrano, we upheld a conviction for possession with the intent to distribute a controlled substance, even though the initial suspicion articulated for stopping Medrano was that he generally fit the description of a robbery suspect. 914 P.2d at 808. Once the police officer determined Medrano was not the robbery suspect, this court held that the facts and circumstances which came to light during the investigation constituted sufficient grounds for a reasonable suspicion that criminal activity was afoot. 914 P.2d at 808. See also Collins v. State, 854 P.2d at 695 (a detention based on reasonable suspicion can, through the development of additional facts during the investigation, evolve into probable cause for arrest). Although we have not previously considered whether the use of intrusive measures as invoked in this case transforms an investigatory stop into an arrest, with regard to officer safety we have recently said: "Nothing written here should be cited for the proposition that proper regard for officer safety might run police afoul of an arrestee's constitutional rights. The concerns for officer safety articulated by Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1, 88 S.Ct. 1868, 20 L. Ed. 2d 889 (1968) have only increased exponentially over the years." Mickelson v. State, 906 P.2d 1020, 1023 (Wyo. 1995). (Brown, 944 P.2d at 1171-72.)