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United States v. Lewis

United States District Court, D. Arizona

December 17, 2018

United States of America, Plaintiff,
v.
Timothy Martin Lewis, Defendant.

          ORDER

          David G. Campbell Senior United States District Judge.

         Defendant Timothy Lewis is charged with certain firearm offenses. Doc. 17. The firearms were found in his vehicle during a traffic stop. Lewis has filed a motion to suppress evidence obtained as a result of the stop. Doc. 22. The motion is fully briefed. Docs. 40, 45. For reasons stated below, the Court will deny the motion in part. A telephonic conference will be held on December 20, 2018 at 10:00 a.m. to address whether an evidentiary hearing is required for the remainder of the motion.

         I. Background.

         On Thursday June 21, 2018, Lewis was driving a rented Dodge Charger west on Interstate 10 near Quartzite, Arizona. He was returning to San Francisco from a trip to Phoenix, accompanied by his cousin Todd. At approximately 3:14 p.m., Arizona Department of Public Safety (“DPS”) Trooper Robert Huijkman observed Lewis's car travelling too close to a semi-truck. Huijkman pursued the car and pulled it over a few minutes later near milepost 48. The video and audio equipment in Huijkman's patrol car recorded the entire stop. See Doc. 44. The facts set forth in this background section are based on a review of the recordings, a transcript of the audio recording of the stop (Doc. 47-1), and Huijkman's report (Doc. 40-1 at 1-13).

         Huijkman approached the car and requested Lewis's driver's license and the rental car agreement, which Lewis provided. Huijkman asked Lewis to come back to his patrol car. Lewis complied. Huijkman checked Lewis for weapons and found none. He got into his patrol car and rolled the windows down. Lewis stood near the passenger side window of the patrol car. Huijkman said he was going to write a warning and cautioned Lewis to stay at least three seconds behind other vehicles.

         Huijkman asked Lewis what he was doing that day. Lewis responded that he was heading home from a business trip to Phoenix and his passenger was on vacation and along for the ride. Huijkman inquired further about the nature of Lewis's business and the trip to Phoenix. Lewis explained that he had an investing company, was looking into cars in the Phoenix area, and was trying to build business credit. This answer made no sense to Huijkman. See Doc. 40-1 at 7. He asked whether Lewis had legitimate business meetings and whether the trip paid off. Lewis said he had only done some research and further explained the nature of his business concept - a ride-sharing business similar to what other companies offered in San Francisco and Phoenix. Huijkman asked how long Lewis had been in Phoenix, and Lewis said he travelled there on Monday and stayed a few days.

         Huijkman apologized for taking so long to write the warning, explaining that his computer had to start back-up and was just “circling.” He asked about the passenger. Lewis said Todd was his cousin. He asked who rented the car, and Lewis said it was his fiancée, Jessica Harrison. Huijkman confirmed this from the rental agreement.

         Huijkman's computer started and he asked for Lewis's social security number. He then asked where they stayed on the trip. Lewis said the Three Palms hotel in Scottsdale. He asked for Lewis's phone number and followed up with several more questions about Lewis's business and what he did for a daytime job. Lewis explained that he had something established in San Francisco and was seeking to establish business credit in order to finance a fleet of cars.

         Huijkman exited his patrol car and approached the passenger side of Lewis's vehicle to see if Todd could find the vehicle registration in the glove box. He observed that Todd's hands were shaking and his breathing appeared accelerated. He asked Todd some of the same questions he had posed to Lewis. Todd said they had arrived in Phoenix on Sunday or Monday, had stayed a few days at Motel 6 or the Three Palms hotel, and that he was on vacation while Lewis was there on business. Huijkman asked what Todd did while Lewis was conducting business. Todd explained that he had just recently moved from Texas, had not seen Lewis for a while, and sat by the pool when Lewis was away. When Todd was not able to find the registration, Huijkman returned to his patrol car to complete the warning.

         Huijkman asked Lewis what Todd did while he was conducting business in Phoenix. Lewis said they “were together” and he “didn't do much business.” Huijkman found this statement inconsistent with what Todd had said. See Id. at 9.

         Huijkman completed the written warning and Lewis signed it. As Huijkman was scanning the signature into his computer system, he asked whether Todd had been in trouble before because he was shaking badly and it is unusual for a passenger to be that scared. Lewis said Todd was scared of everything, even women. Huijkman asked where Todd was from, and Lewis said San Francisco and they had “both lived out there all [their] lives.” This contradicted Todd's statement that he recently had moved from Texas.

         Huijkman gave Lewis the warning and returned his license and the rental agreement. At this point, the traffic stop had lasted approximately 16 minutes. See id. at 10. Huijkman told Lewis that he enforces traffic laws but also looks for criminal activity, noting that a lot of drugs are transported on Interstate 10. He asked whether there were any drugs, weapons, or large amounts of currency in the car. Lewis said no. Huijkman expressed concern about inconsistencies in the answers Lewis and Todd had given. Lewis explained that if Huijkman was talking about him leaving Todd at the hotel, he had in fact done so a few times to meet with another romantic partner, but did not want to talk about it because he had a fiancée. Huijkman asked for Lewis's consent to search the car. Lewis did not consent and asked why Huijkman was asking so many questions. Lewis observed that the questioning was a bit much for following another vehicle too closely.

         Huijkman asked if he could walk his drug-sniffing dog, Klea, around the car. Lewis consented. Huijkman walked Klea around the car and she alerted positively to the front passenger door. Huijkman, with the assistance of other DPS troopers who had arrived on the scene, searched the car and found multiple guns and some ammunition. No. drugs were found.

         Lewis and Todd were transported to the Quartzite police station for interviews with ATF agents. Todd was released after the interviews, but Lewis was detained because his prior felony conviction made him a prohibited possessor of the guns.

         Huijkman prepared a report one week after the traffic stop. Doc. 40-1 at 1-13. With respect to his questioning after he issued the warning, Huijkman identified three factors that led him to believe criminal activity was afoot: Todd's nervous behavior, conflicting stories about staying together in Phoenix and where Todd lived, and the illogical story about the purpose of being in Phoenix. Id. at 10.

         The government filed a criminal complaint on June 22, 2018. Doc. 1. A superseding indictment charges Lewis with being a felon in possession of a firearm in violation 18 U.S.C. § 922(g) (count one), conspiracy under 18 U.S.C. § 371 (count two), and providing false statements in connection with the acquisition of firearms in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924(a) (counts three through seven). Doc. 17.

         Pursuant to Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 12(b)(3), Lewis moves to suppress all evidence obtained as a result of the traffic stop. Doc. 22. He contends that the evidence was obtained in violation of the Fourth Amendment's bar against unreasonable searches and seizures because the stop was ...


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