FINAL UNTIL TIME EXPIRES TO FILE REHEARING MOTION AND, IF
from the Circuit Court for Pinellas County; Chris Helinger,
Jo Bondi, Attorney General, Tallahassee, and Peter N.
Koclanes, Assistant Attorney General, Tampa, for Appellant.
L. Dimmig, II, Public Defender, and Richard P. Albertine,
Jr., Assistant Public Defender, Bartow, for Appellee.
LaROSE, Chief Judge.
State appeals the trial court's order granting Emmet
Zachery's motion to suppress evidence. We have
jurisdiction. See Fla. R. App. P. 9.140(c)(1)(B). As
explained below, the trial court erred in granting the
motion. Accordingly, we reverse.
Procedural and Factual Background
State charged Mr. Zachery with tampering with physical
evidence. See § 918.13, Fla. Stat. (2016). Mr.
Zachery filed a motion to suppress evidence (i.e.,
hand-rolled spice joints), arguing that it was obtained
through an illegal stop and search. At an evidentiary hearing
on the motion, the arresting officer, Kurt Bradshaw,
testified to the following facts.
on a summer evening, Officer Bradshaw was on patrol, driving
his cruiser near downtown St. Petersburg in the area of a
homeless shelter. He saw Mr. Zachery talking with another
male. Officer Bradshaw had no prior contact with Mr. Zachery.
He recognized the other person, however, as someone he had
arrested before for drug offenses. When Officer Bradshaw
initially drove by the two men, from five to ten feet away,
he saw that Mr. Zachery had his hand extended, palm up,
holding what Officer Bradshaw described as several
hand-rolled spice joints.
Bradshaw made a U-turn and parked his cruiser on the street.
Seeing Officer Bradshaw, Mr. Zachery immediately started to
walk away. Officer Bradshaw exited his cruiser and called to
Mr. Zachery. When Mr. Zachery stopped, Officer Bradshaw saw
what appeared to be the spice joints in Mr. Zachery's
clenched right hand. Officer Bradshaw then asked Mr. Zachery
to "[j]ust drop them to the ground." Mr. Zachery
"bladed" his body, as if using his body to place
himself between Officer Bradshaw and Mr. Zachery's own
right hand. Officer Bradshaw was concerned that Mr. Zachery
was attempting to hide the spice joints and was going to
either run or punch him.
point, Officer Bradshaw grabbed Mr. Zachery and put him
against the cruiser to place him under arrest for possession
of contraband. Mr. Zachery crumbled the joints in his right
hand and tried to throw them over a chain-linked fence. Mr.
Zachery failed to clear the fence. Officer Bradshaw recovered
the items and identified them as nine hand-rolled spice
joints. Upon arresting Mr. Zachery, Officer Bradshaw
discovered another spice joint in Mr. Zachery's pocket.
Bradshaw was a thirteen-year veteran of the St. Petersburg
Police Department. He received extensive training in
narcotics and narcotics detection. He had patrolled this area
of St. Petersburg for three years. According to Officer
Bradshaw, the area is known for its spice usage and sales.
During the three years working in the area, Officer Bradshaw
made "hundreds" of spice arrests and had been
involved in spice-related incidents on a daily basis. Officer
Bradshaw testified that, in his experience, he has only ever
found spice in hand-rolled items recovered in the area.
Officer Bradshaw testified that, based on his experience and
training, spice joints are clearly distinguishable from
hand-rolled cigarettes; they are thinly shaped and look like
a lollipop stick.
State admitted the spice joints into evidence. The trial
court examined them and concluded that they were
indistinguishable from cigarettes. Consequently, the trial
court found that Officer Bradshaw had conducted an illegal
stop when he asked to speak with Mr. Zachery as no probable
cause existed to believe that Mr. Zachery had committed or
was committing a crime. The trial court also found that
Officer Bradshaw conducted an illegal search when he asked
Mr. Zachery to drop the alleged contraband. The trial court
reasoned that there was no reason to detain ...