The panel reversed the district court’s denial of a motion to suppress a firearm found in a search of the defendant’s car, vacated his conviction for being a felon in possession of a firearm, and remanded for further proceedings.
The panel held that police officers who have reasonable suspicion sufficient to justify a traffic stop—but who lack probable cause or any other particularized justification, such as a reasonable belief that the driver poses a danger—may not open the door to a vehicle and lean inside.
Because opening the car door and leaning into the car constituted an unlawful search under the Fourth Amendment, the panel considered what remedy is appropriate in this case. The panel held that the exclusionary rule applies to the loaded handgun found under the driver’s seat because the government made no effort to satisfy its burden to show that the gun is not “the fruit of the poisonous tree,” did not invoke the attenuation doctrine, and did not argue that the inevitable-discovery doctrine applies.
Full Opinion here: United States v. Ngumezi – Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, https://cdn.ca9.uscourts.gov/datastore/opinions/2020/11/20/19-10243.pdf
Anton Vialtsin, Esq.
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