United States v. Ngumezi, No. 19-10243 (9th Cir. 2020)Annotate this Case
The Ninth Circuit reversed the district court's denial of defendant's motion to suppress a firearm found in a search of his car, vacated his conviction for being a felon in possession of a firearm, and remanded for further proceedings.
The panel held that police officers who have reasonable suspicion sufficient to justify a traffic stop—but who lack probable cause or any other particularized justification, such as a reasonable belief that the driver poses a danger—may not open the door to a vehicle and lean inside. In this case, the officer conducted an unlawful search in violation of the Fourth Amendment when he opened the car door and leaned into it to ask defendant for his driver's license and vehicle registration. The panel concluded that nothing about this case calls for a remedy other than the typical remedy for Fourth Amendment violation, which is the exclusion of evidence discovered as a result of that violation from criminal proceedings against defendant. Therefore, the firearm must be suppressed under the exclusionary rule.