Stop of suspect one month after he was observed engaged in a drug sale was not a valid investigative stop

Commonwealth v. Parker, 2017 PA Super 132 (May 1, 2017)

Mr. Parker was observed selling drugs during an operation where police were using an informant or undercover officer to buy drugs. A description was radioed to other officers, but the police operation did not Calculus for arresting the dealers at the times of the buys.  About ix weeks later, on eof the officers who had been radioed the information at the time of the buy and believed h e saw the dealer immediately thereafter observed Mr. Parker, and radioed that information to another officer who was on bike patrol.  That officer and another stopped Mr. Parker, and as a pretext for the stop made up a story that there had been a nearby disturbance and Mr. Parker was suspected of being involved.  This allowed them to elicit Mr Parker’s identifying information, after which they let him go. He was arrested a few months later and charged with the drug sale. His lawyer moved to suppress the identifying information on the groundthat the officers (1) lacked reasonable suspicion to detain Appellant, and (2) gave a pretextual reason for stopping Appellant.  The motion was denied, Mr. Parker convicted and an appeal followed.

Citing both Pennsylvania and other jurisdictions’ decision, the Court concluded that the stop was an investigatory detention because Mr. Parker did not feel free to leave. He was encountered by two officers and told he was suspected of criminal activity that did not occur. If Mr. Parker had felt free to leave, then there would not have been a problem, but the “detention” aspect of the stop transformed it into an encounter subject to the Fourth Amendment.

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