United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Florence Division
Bryan Harwell United States District Judge
matter is before the Court on a motion to suppress [ECF No.
25] filed by Defendant Roderick Delon Lewis. A hearing was
held on Defendant's motion to suppress on January 19,
2018. After hearing arguments of the lawyers and testimony of
the witnesses, the Court took the matter under advisement.
For the following reasons, the Court denies Defendant's
[ECF No. 25] motion to suppress.
and Procedural Background
pending motion to suppress involves the encounter between
Sergeant Townsend and Defendant Lewis on June 12, 2017.
Defendant Lewis seeks to suppress the firearm discovered
following that encounter.
morning of June 12, 2017, Sergeant Townsend of the Dillon
Police Department learned of an outstanding warrant for a
person with the last name "Lewis." While on patrol
later that day, Sergeant Townsend encountered the Defendant,
whose last name is "Lewis." Sergeant Townsend was
aware of Roderick Lewis through his reputation as a
"neighborhood bully" and alleged involvement in
drug activity. However, other than the common last name of
"Lewis, " Sergeant Townsend could not state any
other facts to link Lewis to the outstanding warrant he
learned of that morning.
12, 2017, Sergeant Townsend first spotted Defendant Lewis
walking down the street while Sergeant Townsend was gassing
up his police vehicle at the city gas pump. Lewis was walking
to his residence from his mother's house. Sergeant
Townsend radioed dispatch to determine whether Lewis was the
"Lewis" who had the outstanding warrant. Before
receiving a response from dispatch, Sergeant Townsend
finished filling up his car with gas and proceeded to
to Sergeant Townsend's version of the initial encounter,
by the time Sergeant Townsend reached Lewis, Lewis was almost
to his residence. Upon reaching Lewis's location,
Sergeant Townsend pulled his car up beside Lewis and said
"Hey man, let me talk to you for a minute." As
Sergeant Townsend exited his patrol vehicle, he told
Defendant Lewis to "come here." Defendant Lewis
asked, "for what?, " and began walking toward
Sergeant Townsend. Sergeant Townsend responded that he needed
to see Lewis's identification because they had a warrant
on a "Lewis" subject. Immediately after Sergeant
Townsend mentioned a possible warrant on a Lewis subject,
Defendant Lewis turned and fled.
Lewis's version of the initial encounter differs
slightly. Lewis testified that he was walking towards his
home and was approximately three feet away from his steps
when Sergeant Townsend pulled up in the yard, got out of the
vehicle, and told Lewis to turn around and put his hands
behind his back, and that he was under arrest. Lewis
testified that Sergeant Townsend never asked for Id.
Lewis asked Sergeant Townsend what he was being arrested for
and Sergeant Townsend responded by ordering Lewis to
"turn around" and put his hands behind his back.
Lewis then turned around to walk in his front door. Sergeant
Townsend reached for Lewis and Lewis pulled away and ran.
Lewis testified that when Sergeant Townsend first approached
him, Lewis believed that he could just walk away.
Townsend chased after Defendant Lewis, through Lewis's
yard, from one side of the house to the other. Sergeant
Townsend caught Defendant Lewis on the other side of the
house when Lewis unsuccessfully attempted to jump a chain
link fence. Sergeant Townsend wrestled with Lewis in an
attempt to detain him. As they struggled, a black object,
which ended up being a firearm, fell to the ground.
Townsend continued to struggle to detain Defendant Lewis for
a short time until Lewis stopped fighting, at which point
Sergeant Townsend detained him. A passing state trooper
stopped to help but Sergeant Townsend had detained Defendant
Lewis by that point. Other officers then arrived on the
detaining Defendant Lewis, Sergeant Townsend discovered that
the outstanding warrant was for Defendant Lewis's
brother, Damian Lewis. Although Defendant Lewis had an
outstanding warrant for pointing and presenting a firearm,
there was no testimony that Sergeant Townsend was aware of
that particular warrant at the time of Lewis's arrest and
September 26, 2017, Defendant was indicted in a one count
indictment for felon in possession of a firearm in violation
of 18 U.S.C. §§ 922(g)(1), 924(a)(2), and 924(e).
argues the firearm should be suppressed because Sergeant
Townsend did not possess reasonable suspicion to stop and
detain Lewis as ...