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Goodman v. State

Florida Court of Appeals, Second District

September 27, 2019



          Appeal from the Circuit Court for Hillsborough County; Mark D. Kiser, Judge.

          Howard L. Dimmig, II, Public Defender, and Daniel Muller, Assistant Public Defender, Bartow, for Appellant.

          Ashley Moody, Attorney General, Tallahassee, and Brandon R. Christian, Assistant Attorney General, Tampa; and Bilal Ahmed Faruqui, Assistant Attorney General, Tampa (substituted as counsel of record), for Appellee.


          ATKINSON, JUDGE.

         Marquese Goodman appeals the judgment and sentences entered against him on four counts of drug possession and one count of resisting without violence.[1] The State failed to establish that the officer had probable cause to arrest Mr. Goodman for failing to comply with the officer's initial, nonverbal request to stop and failed to establish reasonable suspicion that Mr. Goodman was armed and dangerous to justify the subsequent frisk. As such, we must reverse the trial court's denial of Mr. Goodman's motion to suppress the contents of a pill bottle recovered during the encounter.


         On the night of October 8, 2017, Marquese Goodman, clothed in a t-shirt and athletic shorts, was riding his bicycle in the middle of the street. A law enforcement officer was outside his vehicle finishing another stop when he observed that Mr. Goodman's bicycle did not have a light.[2] Intending to stop Mr. Goodman for that traffic infraction, the officer entered his patrol vehicle, followed Mr. Goodman, and activated his lights. At that point, Mr. Goodman looked back but continued riding. The officer then used his siren, giving it a yelp, in an effort to get Mr. Goodman to stop. The officer admitted that there were other people in the area behind him and that he did not call out to Mr. Goodman. However, he believed that Mr. Goodman should have known that the officer was directing him to stop using his lights and siren because Mr. Goodman stopped, jumped off of his bicycle, and began walking away from the officer after first looking at the officer and "acknowledging that [his] lights were activated for a traffic stop."

         At that point, the officer exited his patrol vehicle, began running after Mr. Goodman and, when he was approximately twenty-five feet away, ordered him to stop. Mr. Goodman immediately complied, and then he began walking towards the officer with his bicycle. It is from this point that the officer's body camera video begins and depicts the rest of the encounter.

         As the officer approached, Mr. Goodman parked his bicycle in between himself and the officer. Without being instructed to do so, Mr. Goodman walked a few feet to the curb and sat down. This forced the officer to walk around the bicycle to approach Mr. Goodman, who was seated on the curb, leaning forward with his elbows resting on his knees and his hands positioned in front of his body.

         To the officer, Mr. Goodman appeared very nervous. Understandably, the officer attested to being nervous himself, in light of Mr. Goodman's initial failure to stop, his unprompted decision to sit down on the curb, and the fact that Mr. Goodman was "hunching over and leaning onto his right side." The officer believed that Mr. Goodman was "trying to conceal something, " given the "way he was sitting" and his abnormal demeanor. The officer described Mr. Goodman as "using his right arm with his right leg and ha[ving] it extended to a point where he was almost resting and trying to avoid me seeing the right side of his body."

         The officer asked Mr. Goodman if he had any identification on him, and Mr. Goodman responded in the negative. He then asked Mr. Goodman if he had anything on him with his name on it. Mr. Goodman replied that he did and began rummaging through his pocket to comply with the officer's request. Before he could do so, the officer abruptly asked Mr. Goodman to stand up, at which point he began to frisk Mr. Goodman. The officer stated that he decided to conduct this pat-down for officer safety as another officer was approaching because Mr. Goodman was acting as if "he was hiding something which could possibly could be a weapon on his right side."

         The officer began the pat-down by focusing on that right side. He immediately felt a large, hard object in Mr. Goodman's right pocket, which the officer recognized as a pill bottle. At that point, Mr. Goodman "braced and tensed" then attempted to flee but made it only six or eight steps before being taken down by the two officers, who handcuffed him and placed him under arrest. Officers located a prescription bottle approximately two or three feet away from Mr. Goodman. The bottle contained marijuana, pills imprinted "MDMA Ecstasy, " eight white rocks appearing to be cocaine, and a few Adderall pills.

         The trial court denied Mr. Goodman's motion to suppress. Acknowledging that it was not as clear on the video as it was from the officer's testimony, the trial court concluded that there was reasonable suspicion that Mr. Goodman was armed in light of the officer's description of Mr. Goodman's actions and the way he was hunching over.[3] The court reasoned that because Mr. Goodman attempted to flee from a lawful pat-down, the arrest was justified and the search of the pill bottle was incident to that lawful arrest.

         A determination as to whether a reasonable suspicion exists under a given set of facts is a question of law that is reviewed de novo. Beahan v. State, 41 So.3d 1000, 1002 (Fla. 1st DCA 2010). The trial court's factual findings, however, are presumed correct and reviewed to determine if they are supported by ...

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