United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Florence Division
Bryan Harwell United States District Judge.
matter is before the Court on Defendant Willis Terrance
Dorsey's [ECF No. 48] motion to suppress. A hearing was
held on Defendant's motion on February 6, 2017. For the
reasons stated below, Defendant's motion to suppress is
case arose from a traffic stop that occurred on February 2,
2016, on I-20 East in Darlington County, South Carolina.
Following the stop, a firearm, marijuana, and a quantity of
crack cocaine were discovered during a search of Defendant
and the rental car he was driving. As a result of the stop
and subsequent search of Defendant and the rental car,
Defendant was charged in a three count indictment filed on
July 26, 2016. Count one alleged that on February 2, 2016,
Defendant possessed with intent to distribute a quantity of
cocaine base in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1)
and (b)(1)(C). Count two alleged that on February 2, 2016,
Defendant, having previously been convicted of a felony,
knowingly possessed a firearm in violation of 18 U.S.C.
§§ 922(g)(1), 924(a)(2) and 924(e). Count three
alleged that on February 2, 2016, Defendant used and carried
a firearm during and relation to a drug trafficking crime in
violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924(c)(1)(A).
filed a motion to suppress any contraband found during the
search arguing that the police officer stopped the vehicle
without probable cause and unduly delayed the traffic stop so
that a police canine could perform a sniff of the vehicle for
drugs. The government filed a response and submitted a video
of the traffic stop, which the Court has reviewed.
February 6, 2017, the Court held a hearing on Defendant's
motion to suppress. The government presented the testimony
of: 1) the officer who initiated the traffic stop; 2) the
officer who handled the drug dog that performed the sniff of
the rental car driven by Defendant; and 3) the authorized
driver of the rental car driven by Defendant.
February 2, 2016, Defendant was driving a rented 2015 Nissan
Altima on I-20 East in Darlington County, South Carolina.
Cpl. Swaringer with the Darlington County Sheriff's
Office testified that he initiated a traffic stop after
observing Defendant cross the far right outside line
repeatedly. Defendant did not possess a valid driver's
license and only held a beginner's permit. The car was
rented by Kimberly Grice from Enterprise on January 18, 2016.
Defendant was not an authorized driver on the rental car
agreement. The rental car agreement stated “no other
drivers permitted.” However, Kimberly Grice testified
that she had given Defendant permission to drive the car.
traffic stop was captured on Cpl. Swaringer's dashcam
video. The video of the traffic stop shows that the traffic
stop lasted no more than approximately twenty-nine minutes.
Cpl. Swaringer asked Defendant for his license and insurance.
Defendant was unable to produce a valid driver's license
or the rental agreement for the vehicle. Cpl. Swaringer asked
Defendant to exit the vehicle. Cpl. Swaringer explained why
he pulled Defendant over and asked Defendant a series of
questions about his driving and travel that day. Cpl.
Swaringer testified that by that point he did not intend to
allow Defendant to leave the scene in the rented vehicle
because he did not have a driver's license and could not
produce the rental agreement.
Swaringer testified that he then called for assistance
because he had determined through various things he had seen
in plain view that he was going to ask Defendant for consent
to search the vehicle. Specifically, Cpl. Swaringer testified
that he smelled fresh air freshener that seemed like it had
been sprayed to mask an odor. Cpl. Swaringer also noticed a
package of Swisher Sweet cigars around the center console and
several plastic baggies stuffed inside the glove compartment.
Cpl. Swaringer testified that Swisher Sweet cigars are
commonly used for smoking marijuana.
Swaringer asked Defendant for consent to search the vehicle
and Defendant declined to give consent. Cpl. Swaringer
explained that an officer was going to bring a K-9 unit to
conduct a free air sniff around the outside of the vehicle.
The K-9 unit (Officer Kyle Hause and Rex) arrived on the
scene less than 10 minutes after Cpl. Swaringer pulled
Hause testified that he took Rex around the perimeter of the
vehicle and that Rex initially began exhibiting a change in
behavior on the passenger side where the window was open.
Officer Hause and Rex continued around the front of the
vehicle and then proceeded up the driver's side of the
car. Officer Hause testified that Rex indicated on the
driver's side of the car by touching his nose to the area
where he found the strongest odor. As a result of Rex
“alerting” on the vehicle, officers conducted a
the vehicle officers discovered a handgun in the center
console and loose marijuana scattered throughout the
floorboard and on the driver's seat. Defendant was placed
under arrest for being a felon in possession of a firearm.
During the search of Defendant incident to his ...