The Sixth Circuit holds that the Fourth Amendment does not bar an investigatory stop based on a completed misdemeanor.
McKinney reported that she had returned home to find her ex-boyfriend, Jones, inside her house and Jones refused to leave. Jones chased her outside, throwing items at her. McKinney was hit by a bottle of dish soap. McKinney saw Snipes drive Jones away in a white Tahoe-like vehicle. Paducah Officer Parrish took steps to corroborate McKinney’s story. McKinney stated that Jones had threatened to kill her and could easily obtain a gun. She repeatedly stated that she planned to get an emergency protective order and that she feared Jones would return once the officers left. Parrish stayed in his car near the house and saw two black males in a white Chevy Suburban at the nearby intersection. Parrish stopped the vehicle. A pat-down of Jones revealed nothing. Parrish arrested him for assault (a fourth-degree misdemeanor) and placed him in the back of his squad car. Jones yelled that the cuffs were too tight. When Parrish checked the cuffs, he spotted a firearm in the back of his cruiser that he had not seen before.
Jones, a convicted felon, was indicted for unlawful possession of a firearm. The district court suppressed the firearm, reasoning that the Fourth Amendment bars investigatory stops prompted by a completed misdemeanor. The Sixth Circuit reversed holding the Fourth Amendment contains no such rule. The proper inquiry looks at the nature of the crime, how long ago it was committed, and the ongoing risk to public safety.
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