An officer notices a vehicle driving too fast and, after running the plate, discovers the plate belongs on a different vehicle. He also noticed that the plate frame covered a part of the plate and registration. As a result, the officer initiated a stop. Once he made the stop, he noticed suspicious movements by the passengers. The officer approached the passenger side of the vehicle and when the passenger rolled down the window, he smelled alcohol and saw open liquor bottles in the car. He asked for identification from all of the passengers. One passenger had no identification and gave him a name the officer knew to be false because he recognized the individual as a person with a different name who had posed with a firearm on Facebook. Green and the others were ordered out of the vehicle. Green was quickly frisked, but the frisking officer found nothing. Another passenger was frisked and marijuana was discovered. When officers then saw a gun in the vehicle, Green was more thoroughly frisked and the officer discovered a firearm in his pants. Green was charged with being a felon in a possession of a firearm.
Green sought to have the firearm excluded arguing that the traffic stop was unlawful and that the officers lacked reasonable suspicion to frisk him. The District Court denied the motion and Green appealed. The Eighth Circuit first addressed the stop and held it was lawful under the Fourth amendment. Specifically, the officer had probable cause to believe the SUV was in violation of three different Iowa traffic laws. The court also held that both frisks of Green were lawful. The first frisk occurred after an officer smelled and found marijuana and with the knowledge of the Facebook post. The second frisk was lawful because of the firearm seen on the seat in the car and the first frisk was very quick and cursory.
To read or download the full decision CLICK HERE