United States District Court, S.D. Florida
ORDER ON DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO SUPPRESS PHYSICAL
EVIDENCE AND STATEMENTS
N. Scola, Jr., United States District Judge.
Toddrey Willie Bruce is charged with being a felon in
possession of a firearm and ammunition, in violation of 18
U.S.C. § 922(g)(1). This matter is before the Court on
the Defendant's Motion to Suppress Physical Evidence and
Statements (ECF No. 17). The Defendant argues that the
firearm and ammunition recovered from the scene of his arrest
and the subsequent statements that he made while in custody
should be suppressed because he was illegally seized without
Court held an evidentiary hearing on the Defendant's
motion on December 1, 2017. At the hearing, the Court heard
the testimony of Government witnesses David Espinosa and Tony
Belle, Jr., both of whom are officers with the Miami-Dade
Police Department. The Court also reviewed a video of the
officers' encounter with the Defendant that was recorded
by Espinosa's body camera, as well as an audio recording
of the 911 call to which Espinosa and Belle were responding
when they encountered the Defendant. After considering the
credible evidence and testimony and the relevant legal
authorities, and for the reasons more particularly set forth
below, the motion to suppress is denied
(ECF No. 17).
has been employed for just over one year as a uniformed road
patrol officer for the Miami-Dade Police Department. He
previously served four years in the U.S. Military and served
as a military police officer. As a police officer, he has
responded to emergency calls hundreds of times and his
primary concerns when responding to such calls are the safety
of the community and officer safety.
March 27, 2017 in the early morning hours, he responded to a
dispatch which was the result of a 911 call. The caller said
there was a black male with a firearm engaged in an argument
and the black male was standing next to a white car in the
is assigned to the Cutler Ridge area of Miami-Dade County.
That night he was patrolling the Perrine area, which is a
relatively small area within Cutler Ridge. Perrine is a
high-crime area. Espinosa receives approximately 30 calls per
night in the Cutler Ridge area and 15 of those calls - a
disproportionate number - are from Perrine.
arrived at the address provided by dispatch at 3:28 a.m.,
within a few minutes of the 911 call, and saw a white car
with the interior light on and two persons inside the
vehicle. Espinosa had his firearm withdrawn as a result of
the nature of the call. Espinosa first approached the
driver's side of the car and the driver complied with
commands and exited the vehicle.
and Office Price then approached the Defendant on the
passenger side of the car, and Espinosa activated his body
camera. He had forgotten to turn on the body camera when he
approached the driver's side of the car. The Defendant
had already exited the car and had his hands up. Espinosa and
Price explained that they were there due to a report of a man
with a gun. They ordered the Defendant to put his hands on
the vehicle so a pat-down could be conducted, but the
Defendant refused. When Espinosa and Price tried to put the
Defendant against the vehicle, the Defendant struggled and
tried to push his way through the officers to flee. During
the struggle, now at the rear of the vehicle, a firearm fell
out of his waistband onto the ground. Espinosa's body
camera fell to the ground during the struggle and stopped
recording. The entire encounter with the Defendant, from the
approach to the struggle, took approximately 20 seconds.
firearm was cleared to prevent accidental discharge. The
Defendant's criminal history was run and it was learned
that he was a convicted felon.
Tony Belle, Jr.
has been a police officer with the Miami Dade Police
Department for over one year. He is presently a detective but
was a patrol officer in March 2017. While a patrol officer,
he responded to hundreds of 911 calls. His primary concerns
when responding to such calls are safety and determining how
to react. When there is a call relating to a firearm, officer
safety and the safety of others is a concern.
March 27, 2017, in the early morning hours, he received a
dispatch referencing two males standing next to a white car
in front of a house arguing and one was armed with a firearm.
Belle believes it was a white Nissan. Belle arrived at the
address four to five ...