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Reasonable suspicion to search appellant

Virginia Lawyers Weekly//June 1, 2023

Reasonable suspicion to search appellant

Virginia Lawyers Weekly//June 1, 2023

Where appellant tried to evade the police, who observed an “L-shaped” outline near his right front pocket, the officers had a reasonable, articulable suspicion of illegal activity, which justified a pat-down search. A gun that fell from appellant’s pant leg was properly admitted as evidence.


“Under the totality of the circumstances here, the officers had reasonable suspicion justifying their stop of appellant. First, as soon as appellant made eye contact with the officers, he immediately made a ‘U-turn,’ started walking away from them, and entered the backseat of a parked, unoccupied car that he admitted did not belong to him. …

“Second, Officer Evancho suspected appellant had a possible weapon because he noticed an ‘L-shaped’ outline in appellant’s right pants pocket. Appellant also pulled his shirt down and turned the right side of his body away from the officers’ view after he saw them, in an apparent attempt to conceal the outline. …

“Finally, appellant’s actions in the car heightened the officers’ suspicion. As the officers approached either side of the car, they saw appellant bend over and reach toward the floor and his right side.

“Those ‘furtive movements’ toward the possible weapon and appellant’s disregard of the officers’ instructions further supported the officers’ suspicion that appellant was engaged in criminal activity. …

“Before his removal from the car, appellant also admitted the car did not belong to him. Additionally, he confirmed the officers’ suspicions that he had a gun when he said, ‘It is not my gun,’ just before they seized him from the car.

“Based on the totality of the circumstances – and viewing those facts in the light most favorable to the Commonwealth – the officers had reasonable, articulable suspicion to then order appellant out of the car and detain him.”

Appellant’s motion to suppress was correctly denied.


Brownson v. Commonwealth, Record No. 0988-22-1, May 16, 2023. CAV (unpublished opinion) (Huff). From the Circuit Court of the City of Norfolk (Atkins, Jones). J. Barry McCracken for appellant. Angelique Rogers, Jason S. Miyares for appellee. VLW 023-7-170, 6 pp.

VLW 023-7-170

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