Quick Summary: K9 sniff of the vehicle did not unreasonably extend a traffic stop where two officers collaborated on the traffic stop and the K9 sniff did not add additional time to the traffic stop. Even if the K9 sniff had extended the stop, the officers had reasonable suspicion to conduct a Terry Stop based on predictive information from a confidential informant.
As a result of a text message from a confidential informant, officers suspected that a single cab white pickup was transporting drugs on its way to Dubuque, Iowa. Shortly thereafter, Deputy Kearney observed the truck traveling at 75 mph in a 65-mph zone. He initiated a stop at 12:50 p.m. Harry was driving with Thul as a passenger. Deputy Kearney recognized Harry and Thul from previous encounters. Investigator Williams arrived at the scene within moments and approached the vehicle at 12:51 p.m. Investigator Williams and Deputy Kearney then collaborated to process the traffic violation while also searching the truck for drugs. At 12:52 p.m., Deputy Kearney requested that Investigator Williams run Harry’s name and address, as Harry presented no driver’s license. Less than a minute later, Deputy Kearney deployed a drug-sniffing dog on the truck. Within seconds,3 the dog detected drugs. At 12:58 p.m., Deputy Kearney advised Harry that he would be issuing him a speeding warning. Then, at 1:03 p.m., Investigator Williams uncovered about a pound and a half of methamphetamine stashed inside a pipe in the truck’s bed.
Harry claimed that the evidence should be suppressed because the traffic stop was unlawfully extended to conduct a criminal investigation (Rodriguez violation). Harry also argued that the officers did not have a reasonable suspicion of criminal activity prior to making the stop. The eighth Circuit disagreed with both arguments.
Regarding the extension of the traffic stop, the court held that the two officers collaborated to process the stop and because the traffic stop and the search had occurred simultaneously, it was not unlawfully extended. There was no evidence that the dog sniff unlawfully prolonged the traffic stop.
Regarding the reasonable suspicion based on the confidential informant’s information, the court held that:
Here, the CI provided police with accurate predictive information. This information included: a description of the truck Harry would be driving, including information about its registration; who would be in the truck; and what time the truck would be arriving in Dubuque. The information was specific rather than generic and therefore unlikely available to someone without reliable insight into Harry’s activities. Based on that information, Deputy Kearney had reasonable suspicion to search the truck regardless of the speeding violation. (Citing Alabama v. White, 496 U.S. 325 (1990)).
Accordingly, even if the traffic stop had been extended by the K9 sniff, the officers already possessed the reasonable suspicion necessary to extend the stop to conduct the K9 sniff.
To read or download the full decision CLICK HERE