Thursday, December 15, 2011

Terry-like Scenario Produces Terry-like Result

US v. Glover: Glover was convicted of being a felon in possession of a firearm after being subject to a stop-and-frisk in a parking lot in the "wee hours of the morning." Two officers on patrol drove to a 24-hour gas station which both knew had been the site of prior armed robberies (one of the officers had personally investigated one of the robberies). Only two people were present - the station attendant, who was outside checking the tank levels, and Glover, who was standing 45-60 feet away in an area that was not captured by the station's security cameras. Officers saw Glover glance around a corner and pull his head back, as if trying to hide. When they drove out of the lot, he watched them. The officers were concerned and decided they should talk to Glover. By the time they circled back around to the station, Glover was "standing, basically overtop" of the attendant, who appeared unaware of his presence. The officers walked over to Glover and one of the officer's patted him down, uncovering a gun in his right pants pocket. The district court refused to suppress the gun and Glover was sentenced to 60 months in prison.

On appeal, Glover argued that the officers lacked reasonable suspicion upon which to base a legitimate stop-and-frisk. The Fourth Circuit disagreed and affirmed his conviction. The court held that the actions of the officers in this case were essentially the same as in Terry, undertaken for the same reason. Based on the totality of the circumstances the officers had reasonable suspicion to believe an armed robbery might be in the offing. Among the factors supporting that conclusion was the high-crime nature of the area (not just in general, but the gas station's history itself), the time of night, lack of others around, and the vulnerable position of the attendant, as well as Glover's actions themselves.

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