United States v. Drakeford, No. 19-4912 (4th Cir. 2021)Annotate this Case
The Fourth Circuit reversed the district court's denial of defendant's motion to suppress, concluding that officers did not have reasonable suspicion to stop and frisk him and thus violated his Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable search.
In this case, officers relied on information from a confidential informant; two interactions that officers believed were consistent with the manner in which illegal drugs are bought and sold, but in which no drugs were found; and a single officer witnessing a handshake between defendant and another man and concluding that it was a hand-to-hand drug transaction, even though the officer did not see anything exchanged. Furthermore, the officers concluded that this amounted to reasonable suspicion, overlooking the facts that the interaction took place in a public space, in broad daylight, outside of the vehicles, and in front of a security camera. After the interaction, defendant went into a store, rather than immediately leaving the scene. Therefore, the court agreed with defendant that, under the totality of the circumstances, the officers did not have more than a mere hunch that criminal activity was afoot when they stopped him.