United States v. Meamen Nyah, No. 21-1490 (8th Cir. 2022)Annotate this Case
A police officer initiated a traffic stop of a vehicle after the officer observed it traveling 20 miles per hour over the posted speed limit. The driver did not stop and led the officer on a high-speed chase before crashing. Two people exited the vehicle and fled. The officer pursued Defendant, who was the passenger. The officer used his taser on Defendant, who then grabbed a nearby firearm and pointed it at the officer. The officer shot Defendant, who was later indicted for unlawfully possessing a firearm as a felon.
The district court denied Defendant's motion to suppress any evidence recovered after he was tased, and a jury ultimately convicted Defendant. Defendant appealed.
On appeal, the Eighth Circuit affirmed Defendant's conviction and sentence, affirming the district court's denial of Defendant's motion to suppress. By tasing Defendant, the officer executed a warrantless arrest. However, this arrest was supported by probable cause based on the traffic stop and Defendant's subsequent flight despite the officer's demands to stop. The court determined that the officer reasonably thought that Defendant was the driver of the vehicle.
The Eighth Circuit rejected Defendant's remaining challenges to his conviction and sentence.
Court Description: [Grasz, Author, with Loken and Gruender, Circuit Judges] Criminal case - Criminal law and sentencing. The police officer had probable cause to arrest defendant based on a high-speed chase and flight on foot from a crash, as well as his refusal to obey police commands; as a result, the officer reasonably seized defendant by tasing him after he continually ignored commands to stop; the district court's decision to move a trial to a different division of the district, based in part on COVID-related issues, did not violate defendant's Sixth Amendment rights; the venire panel was drawn from a fair cross-section of the community, and in light of this undisputed fact, the absence of black prospective jurors on the jury venire does not establish a Sixth Amendment violation; no error in admitting photos of defendant holding weapons as they were admissible under Fed. R. Evid. 404(b)(2) and 403; additionally, the district court gave a limiting instruction on use of the photos; no error in imposing an enhancement under Guidelines Sec. 2K2.1(b)(4)(A) for possession of a stolen firearm or in imposing an enhancement under 2K2.1(b)(6)(b) for possession of the firearm in connection with another felony - carrying a weapon - or in imposing an enhancement under Sec. 3A1.2(c)(1) for assaulting the arresting officer; the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying defendant's request for a downward departure based on overstated criminal history; defendant's within-guidelines range sentence was substantively reasonable.