United States v. Weaver, No. 18-1697 (2d Cir. 2021)Annotate this Case
The en banc court concluded that, based on the facts of this case, the officer's pat-down search of a suspect for weapons was reasonable under the Fourth Amendment. The en banc court wrote to confirm several fundamental, and well-settled, principles of Fourth Amendment jurisprudence: 1) a police officer's verbal directives to a suspect do not transform a stop into a search when they do not amount to a physical trespass or intrusion into an area subject to a reasonable expectation of privacy, irrespective of any reasonable belief by a suspect as to whether a search is occurring; 2) a police officer's subjective intent bears no weight in determining when that officer's interaction with the suspect constitutes a search; and 3) in evaluating whether an officer has reasonable suspicion that a suspect is armed, courts must look to the totality of the circumstances confronting the officer, as viewed objectively by a reasonable and cautious officer on the scene. The en banc court explained that when the circumstances give rise to reasonable suspicion that a suspect has a weapon, an officer need not rule out alternative explanations—whether innocent or otherwise—for a suspect's behavior before deciding to conduct a pat-down for his safety. Accordingly, the en banc court vacated the panel decision and affirmed the district court's judgment.
This opinion or order relates to an opinion or order originally issued on September 15, 2020.