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LU Ref# CAI00007
March 5, 2021
Author Ref. No: Vol. 26 No. 3
LU Ref# CAI00007
March 5, 2021
Author Ref. No:   Vol. 26 No. 3

Robert Phillips
Deputy District Attorney (Retired)

“Don’t piss off old people. The older we get, the less “life in prison” is a deterrent.” (Unknown)
Detentions for Investigation
COURT CASE REFERENCE: People v. Flores (Feb 16, 2021) __ Cal.App.5th __ [2021 Cal.App. LEXIS 130]

A person may be lawfully detained if, in view of all the circumstances, a reasonable person would have believed that he or she was not free to leave.  One’s furtive act of an apparent attempt to hide from approaching police officers, at least in a high crime area, may be sufficient to justify a lawful detention.
Officers Michael Marino and Daniel Guy were patrolling in a “high crime area” at about 10:00 p.m. in a marked patrol car.  They drove into a cul-de-sac which was known as a “gang haunt” and a “narcotics hangout,” and where fresh graffiti was a daily occurrence.  Officer Guy had in fact made a drug-related arrest at that location the night before.  As the officers entered the cul-de-sac, they observed defendant Marlon Flores standing in the street next to a car at the end of the street.  Defendant looked in the officers’ direction and immediately walked around to the opposite rear side of the car and crouched down out of sight.  In the sequence of events (as recorded by Officer Guy’s body camera and as described in his later testimony), Officer Guy approached defendant with his flashlight directed at him. Defendant was shown by the body camera as he crouched down behind the car.  The camera then showed that defendant looked up about four seconds later in Officer Guy’s direction, and then crouched down again with his back to the officer.  Defendant later claimed to be tying one of his shoes at this time.  As Officer Guy approached defendant while shinning his flashlight at him, defendant was twice told to stand up. Both commands were ignored as defendant continued to “toy” with his right foot.  With defendant in the crouching position for some 20 seconds, Officer Guy believed he was merely pretending to tie his shoe while actually attempting to hide drugs from view, and “that he was there loitering for the use or sales of narcotics.” Defendant finally stood up upon Officer Guy’s third command and was told to put his hands behind his head where he was handcuffed for the officers’ safety.  Upon patting defendant down for weapons, Officer Guy set off an electronic car key in his pocket which activated the lights on the parked car.  Looking into the car through the car’s window, the officer could see in plain sight a methamphetamine bong.  Upon receiving permission to retrieve defendant’s identification from the vehicle, some methamphetamine and a loaded unregistered pistol were recovered.  Charged in state court with a number of drug and illegal firearm-related offenses, defendant’s motion to suppress the items recovered from his car was denied.  He therefore plead “no contest” to carrying a loaded, unregistered handgun (Pen. Code § 25850(a)) and received probation.   Defendant appealed.