Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

United States v. Philip Eaton

United States District Court, D. Arizona

May 15, 2019

United States of America, Plaintiff,
v.
Emmanuel James Philip Eaton, Defendant.

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          HONORABLE BRUCE G. MACDONALD, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Currently pending before the Court is Defendant Emmanuel James Philip Eaton's Motion to Suppress Evidence (Doc. 14). The Government has filed its response, and there was no reply. Govt.'s Response to Def.'s Mot. to Suppress (Doc. 17). Defendant is charged with one (1) count of possession of an unregistered firearm in violation of Title 26, United States Code, Sections 5845(a), 5861(d), and 5871. Indictment (Doc. 1) at 1.

         Pursuant to LRCrim. 5.1, this matter came before Magistrate Judge Macdonald for an evidentiary hearing and a report and recommendation. On March 7, 2019, an evidentiary hearing was held before Magistrate Judge Macdonald regarding the motion. Minute Entry 2/27/2019 (Doc. 88). Subsequently, Defendant filed his Supplemental Authorities in Support of Motion to Suppress Involuntary Statement (Doc. 96) and the Government filed its Response (Doc. 97). This matter is now ripe for adjudication. The Magistrate Judge recommends that the District Court, after its independent review, deny Defendant's motion.

         I. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

         On May 26, 2018, United States Forest Service (“USFS”) Office of Law Enforcement and Investigations Law Enforcement Officer Mark Sanburn was assigned to the Coronado National Forest Santa Catalina Ranger District. Hr'g Tr. 3/7/2019 (Doc. 31) at 5:6-6:20. Officer Sanburn has been employed with the USFS Office of Law Enforcement and Investigations since 2010-approximately nine (9) years, and a commissioned law enforcement officer since 2001. Id. at 5:17-18, 16:6-14, 63:1-5. Officer Sanburn testified that his job entails protecting the public and resources on the forest through the enforcement of the Code of Federal Regulations and other laws that govern the National Forest System lands. Id. at 5:19-6:8, 64:16-65:1, 108:24-110:3. Officer Sanburn further testified that as part of his responsibilities he works in connection with fire prevention personnel. Id. at 6:21-24.

         Defendant James Philip Eaton was twenty-one (21) years old at all relevant times. Id. at 124:3-6, 18-22. Prior to this encounter, Mr. Eaton had not been in any legal trouble. Hr'g Tr. 3/7/2019 (Doc. 31) at 127:8-13. Mr. Eaton testified that he and his girlfriend's cousin, Jose Castro, arrived on Mount Lemmon between 5:00 and 5:30 p.m. on May 26, 2018. Id. at 129:7-9. Mr. Eaton further testified that he and Mr. Castro set up a tent, and Jose lit a fire because it was cold. Id. at 129:10-22.

         A. USFS Initial Contact

         On May 26, 2018, the Coronado National Forest was under fire restrictions. Hr'g Tr. 3/7/2019 (Doc. 31) at 7:3-15. Officer Sanburn testified that there was a specific fire closure order in place. Id. Officer Sanburn explained that these orders are a temporary regulation or law that prohibits certain activities due to the assessment made by the fire division within the USFS. Id. Officer Sanburn noted ban examples including no campfires, no smoking out in the open, and a ban on certain combustible engines. Id. Officer Sanburn further testified that during the relevant fire closure order one of the main focuses was campfires on the forest. Id. Officer Sanburn explained that when such closure orders are in effect, signs are posted all over the forest. Hr'g Tr. 3/7/2019 (Doc. 31) at 8:13-9:9.

         Officer Sanburn testified that he was notified via service radio that USFS Forest Protection Officers made contact with the party at the camp in this case because they had an illegal campfire. Id. at 7:16-8:7. Officer Sanburn explained that USFS Forest Protection Officers are Forest Service employees that have a collateral duty to enforce certain regulations, can give written warnings and tickets, and patrol for illegal campfires. Id. at 7:16-8:7, 108:5-23. Officer Sanburn testified that the Forest Protection Officers talked to the individuals at the camp and notified them that they were there to put the fire out. Id. Mr. Eaton confirmed that a park ranger instructed them to put the fire out because of the fire restrictions. Id. at 129:23-130:3. Officer Sanburn further testified that he was notified via service radio again that other USFS or Mount Lemmon Fire District personnel observed another campfire at the same camp, and asked Officer Sanburn for assistance at the site. Hr'g Tr. 3/7/2019 (Doc. 31) at 7:16-8:7, 108:5-23. Mr. Eaton also confirmed that Jose lit a second fire despite the initial warning. Id. at 130:4-14, 144:17-22. Officer Sanburn confirmed that signs were posted regarding the ban leading into the Mount Bigelow area where the incident occurred. Id. at 8:13-9:9, 72:25-73:2. Officer Sanburn testified that in the instant case, the individuals did not seem understand the information that the non-law enforcement personnel had given them regarding the closure order, and this led the personnel to seek intervention from someone with more authority. Id. at 8:13-9:9. Accordingly, Officer Sanburn responded to the campsite. Id. at 9:10-11, 62:18-25.

         B. Law Enforcement Contact

         Officer Sanburn testified that he arrived at the campsite at approximately 9:15 p.m., and the Mount Lemmon Fire Department volunteers told him that they had extinguished the fire shortly before his arrival. Hr'g Tr. 3/7/2019 (Doc. 31) at 9:12-16, 12:2-5, 67:21-68:1, 72:23-24. Officer Sanburn further testified that he talked to the volunteers and received additional information from the Forest Protection Officers, including confirmation that the two individuals that were at the campsite were the ones who were tending the fires. Id. at 9:17-10:6. Officer Sanburn explained that because there had been two violations already, he felt it necessary to go and talk to the individuals to educate them on the closure order and insure that there was not a third fire. Id. at 9:17-10:6, 69:2-22. Officer Sanburn also noted the importance of understanding that campfires at that time of the year are often the cause of wildfires. Id. at 9:17-10:6, 110:20-24. Officer Sanburn further explained that fires must be completely extinguished to prevent embers from starting a forest fire. Id. at 10:7-11:9, 68:4-17, 110:14-19.

         Officer Sanburn testified that once he arrived on scene, he spoke with the Mount Lemmon Fire Department volunteers that were there. Hr'g Tr. 3/7/2019 (Doc. 31) at 11:10-20. Officer Sanburn further testified that he positioned his vehicle toward the campsite, with his high beam headlights on so that he could see. Id. at 11:10-20. Officer Sanburn testified that he got out of his vehicle, and the two individuals at the campsite began walking toward him, one individual entered and then exited an SUV that was parked somewhat blocking the campsite, and Officer Sanburn made contact with the individuals near the SUV. Id. Officer Sanburn further testified that he was wearing his uniform and was in a marked law enforcement vehicle. Id. at 11:10-12:1. Mr. Eaton confirmed that it was Officer Sanburn arrived in a marked police vehicle and spoke to him about the campfire. Id. at 131:3-15. Officer Sanburn also testified that the two individuals' last names were Eaton and Castro, and he identified Mr. Eaton as the Defendant present in the courtroom. Hr'g Tr. 3/7/2019 (Doc. 31) at 12:9-13:5.

         Officer Sanburn testified that it was dark at the time of the incident, and he used a flashlight to better see the individuals. Id. at 12:6-8, 13:7-22, 74:20-22. Officer Sanburn further testified that once he was able to observe Mr. Eaton, Officer Sanburn saw to large Bowie knives in sheaths on Mr. Eaton's side, as well as the clip of a pocketknife in his right pants pocket. Id. at 13:16-22, 14:11-14, 71:14-17, 73:20-25, 111:9-13. Mr. Eaton confirmed that he had the knives that Officer Sanburn described. Id. at 131:16-21. Officer Sanburn testified that in light of this safety concern, he called out and said that he saw Mr. Eaton's knives and that Mr. Eaton should not reach for them and to keep his hands out of his pockets. Id. at 13:23-14:5. Officer Sanburn further testified that despite this instruction, Mr. Eaton twice placed his hands inside his pockets. Hr'g Tr. 3/7/2019 (Doc. 31) at 14:6-8. Mr. Eaton confirmed that Officer Sanburn instructed him to keep his hands out of his pockets, but did so despite this instruction because he was cold. Id. at 132:8-21. Officer Sanburn testified that he identified himself as law enforcement with the USFS and that he was there about some illegal fires. Id. at 14:15-15:2. Officer Sanburn further testified that while he was attempting to educate the two individuals on the closure order and discern whether they were responsible for the earlier campfires, Mr. Eaton began advancing on him. Id. at 15:7-15. Mr. Eaton testified that he did not really step toward Officer Sanburn, but may have stumbled toward him. Id. at 132:24-133:4. Officer Sanburn testified that Mr. Eaton's failure to follow instructions including putting his hands in his pockets and advancing, made Officer Sanburn feel threatened. Hr'g Tr. 3/7/2019 (Doc. 31) at 15:7-15, 74:23- 75:3, 112:6-113:1. Officer Sanburn further testified that he ordered Mr. Eaton to stop and turn around. Id. Officer Sanburn also testified that he proceeded to handcuff Mr. Eaton, removed the knives from his sides, and went to remove the pocketknife. Id. at 15:7-16:5, 75:7-12, 76:9-13. Mr. Eaton confirmed Officer Sanburn's actions. Id. at 133:5-15.

         Officer Sanburn testified that when he went to remove Mr. Eaton's pocketknife, he felt a small marijuana pipe in the small coin pocket of the same pocket. Id. at 15:19- 16:5, 76:14-16. Officer Sanburn further testified that when he removed the pipe, the smell of marijuana became more pungent and noticed what he believed to be burned marijuana residue inside the bowl of the pipe. Hr'g Tr. 3/7/2019 (Doc. 31) at 16:15-22. Officer Sanburn testified that at this point he asked Mr. Eaton to have a seat on the ground; however, Mr. Eaton declined and Officer Sanburn escorted him back to Officer Sanburn's patrol vehicle and requested that he sit in the back. Id. at 16:23-17:2. Mr. Eaton testified that he did not want to sit on the ground because it was cold and full of bugs. Id. at 133:16-23. Officer Sanburn further testified that he explained to Mr. Eaton that he was not under arrest and that he was simply being detained. Id. at 17:3-6.

         Officer Sanburn testified that he then obtained Mr. Castro's identification, determined that he was the owner of the SUV, and asked permission to look inside. Id. at 17:7-18:11, 80:1-11. Officer Sanburn further testified that he looked inside the SUV where Mr. Castro had entered upon Officer Sanburn's arrival, but did not see anything illegal. Hr'g Tr. 3/7/2019 (Doc. 31) at 17:7-18:11, 80:1-11. Officer Sanburn spoke with Mr. Castro about what they were doing and Mr. Castro said that he had left the remnant of a marijuana cigarette in the bark of a tree near the campsite. Id. at 17:16-18:11, 78:25-79:3, 80:12-15, 81:22-82:2. Mr. Castro showed Officer Sanburn where the remnant was, and Officer Sanburn took possession of it. Id. at 17:16-18:11, 18:19-21. Officer Sanburn testified that as he was walking to the tree, he walked past the tent and smelled a very strong odor of marijuana coming from inside the tent. Id. at 18:12-18, 81:5-21.

         Officer Sanburn testified that he then asked Mr. Eaton for his identification, which he indicated was inside his wallet in a pocket inside the tent, next to a pistol-style BB gun. Id. at 17:7-19:7, 83:12-17. Officer Sanburn further testified that he asked Mr. Eaton for permission to go into the tent to get his identification, and Mr. Eaton said it was okay. Hr'g Tr. 3/7/2019 (Doc. 31) at 19:8-15, 84:25-85:3. Officer Sanburn testified that he walked to the tent, went inside with his flashlight illuminated, and began to look in the tent pockets for Mr. Eaton's wallet. Id. at 20:12-24. Officer Sanburn further testified that as he was looking for Mr. Eaton's wallet, he found a glass mason jar, partially covered by a sleeping bag or blanket, containing what he believed to be bud marijuana. Id. at 21:6-16, 87:1-88:10. Mr. Eaton confirmed that the jar of marijuana was in the corner of the tent, partially covered by blankets. Id. at 136:19-137:4. Officer Sanburn also testified that he found Mr. Eaton's wallet, took out Mr. Eaton's state identification, and returned the wallet to the tent pocket. Id. at 21:19-22:6. Officer Sanburn testified that upon obtaining Mr. Eaton's identification, he exited the tent, returned to his vehicle, and initiated wants and warrants checks on both Mr. Eaton and Mr. Castro. Hr'g Tr. 3/7/2019 (Doc. 31) at 22:11-23:8, 41:12-22, 89:20-22. At this point, Officer Sanburn turned on his dashboard camera, which he explained activates automatically when the forward-facing emergency lights are on; however, because Officer Sanburn believed this call to be a mundane illegal campfire call, his emergency lights were never activated and the dash ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.