United States District Court, D. Nebraska
FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATION
M. Bazis United States Magistrate Judge
matter is before the Court on the Motion to Suppress filed by
Defendant Christopher St. John (“St. John”)
(Filing No. 25) and the Motion to Suppress filed by Defendant
Richard Naslund (“Naslund”) (Filing No. 27). A
joint evidentiary hearing was held regarding the motions on
October 23, 2019. A transcript of the proceedings has been
filed and this matter is now ripe for disposition.
reasons explained below, the motions will be denied.
30, 2019, at approximately 5:00 p.m., Nebraska State Patrol
Trooper Michael Lassen (“Trooper Lassen”)
observed a truck stopped in the middle of the roadway near
the intersection of Highway 11 and West Cedar Road, just
outside Wood River, Nebraska. (TR. 71; TR. 95.) Trooper
Lassen stopped his cruiser and found St. John sitting inside
the stopped truck. (TR. 71.) This encounter was recorded by
the camera on Trooper Lassen's cruiser. (TR. 72; Ex. 3.)
Lassen made contact with St. John and asked him what was
going on. (Ex. 3.) St. John indicated his brake shaft went
out and that he could not move the truck. (Ex. 3.) St. John
indicated his “brother” left on foot to get
help. (Ex. 3.) Trooper Lassen asked St. John his
name and asked for his license. (Ex. 3.) Trooper Lassen asked
St. John if he had any weapons. (Ex. 3.) St. John indicated
he had a knife in his pocket. (Ex. 3.) Trooper Lassen then
asked St. John where his brother had gone. (TR. 73-74; Ex.
3.) St. John responded by pointing off in a direction. (TR.
73-74; Ex. 3.)
Lassen asked St. John if he could pat him down for weapons.
(Ex. 3.) St. John responded he could and put his hands in the
air. (TR. 76-77; Ex. 3.) After the pat down, Trooper Lassen
told St. John he was going to run his license to make sure he
did not have any warrants. (Ex. 3.) Trooper Lassen left St.
John standing at the back of his truck, not handcuffed, while
he ran his license. (Ex. 3.)
checking St. John's license, Trooper Lassen approached
St. John and returned it. (Ex. 3.) St. John tried to start
the truck again but was unsuccessful. St. John then asked
Trooper Lassen if he could help push the truck. (Ex.) Trooper
Lassen agreed to do so. (Ex. 3.) St. John indicated he was on
medication for his shoulder. (Ex. 3.) St. John stated he was
taking hydrocodone. (Ex. 3.) Trooper Lassen asked St. John if
the hydrocodone was the prescription bottle in the center
console of the truck. (Ex. 3.) St. John indicated it was
another medication for his shoulder, which he did not like
taking. (Ex. 3.) At this point, Trooper Lassen attempted to
push the truck, but it did not move. (Ex. 3.)
John gave Trooper Lassen permission to search the truck. (Ex.
3.) Trooper Lassen asked St. John to stand off to the side of
the truck as he searched it. (Ex. 3.) During the search,
Trooper Lassen located a substance he thought to be
methamphetamine. (TR. 76.) After finding the substance,
Trooper Lassen placed St. John in handcuffs and told him he
was being detained. (TR. 76-77; Ex. 3.) Trooper Lassen
testified that, at that point, St. John was being detained so
he could retrieve the substance from the truck and conduct a
field-test on the substance. (TR. 77.) Once St. John was in
handcuffs, Trooper Lassen indicated to St. John the substance
looked like methamphetamine. (Ex. 3.)
John then made a comment to Trooper Lassen about his brother.
(Ex. 3.) Trooper Lassen indicated to St. John that they were
going to try to find his brother. (Ex. 3.) St. John continued
to volunteer information about his brother walking away. (Ex.
3.) Trooper Lassen took St. John to the back of his truck and
began asking him questions about his brother. (TR. 77-78.)
Trooper Lassen testified that he asked these questions
because St. John indicated he was going to jail for his
brother and Trooper Lassen wanted to identify the brother to
determine whether the substance in the truck belonged to him.
point, Trooper Lassen was going to put St. John in his
cruiser, but St. John asked not to be placed in the cruiser.
(Ex. 3.) Trooper Lassen allowed St. John to sit on the back
bumper of his truck. (Ex. 3.) Trooper Lassen went to retrieve
the bag from the truck and brought it back for St. John to
see. (Ex. 3.) St. John indicated he had never seen the bag
before. (Ex. 3.) Trooper Lassen again asked about St.
John's brother and where he went. (Ex. 3.)
Lassen then conducted a field-test on the substance and the
test was positive for methamphetamine. (TR. 79.) Trooper
Lassen testified that St. John was under arrest at this point
and told St. John he was under arrest. (TR. 79; Ex. 3.)
Trooper Lassen informed St. John he did not want to waste
another officer's time looking for someone who did not
exist. (Ex. 3.) St. John again indicated his brother did
exist but had left on foot. (Ex. 3.)
St. John's arrest, Trooper Lassen continued to search the
truck and located a cell phone. (TR. 80.) St. John told
Trooper Lassen that he did not want him to go through the
contacts on his phone and that he wanted it shut-off. (TR.
80.) St. John wanted to watch the phone being turned-off and
indicated to Trooper Lassen that he had the right to do so.
(Ex. 3.) Trooper Lassen powered-off the phone in front of St.
John. (Ex. 3.)
Lassen called Nebraska State Patrol Trooper Michael Knuth
(“Trooper Knuth”) for assistance at approximately
5:30 p.m. (TR. 95.) When Trooper Knuth arrived on scene,
Trooper Lassen told him that he had found methamphetamine in
the truck. (TR. 95.) Trooper Lassen asked Trooper Knuth to
locate the individual who St John referred to as his brother.
(TR. 96-96.) Trooper Knuth drove towards Wood River to look
for St. John's brother and then called Trooper Lassen for
more information. (TR. 96-97; Ex. 3.) Trooper Lassen asked
St. John what his brother was wearing. (TR. 81; Ex. 3.) St.
John provided a description of the brother to Trooper Lassen
who relayed the description to Trooper Knuth. (TR. 81; TR.
95-96; Ex. 3.) Trooper Lassen testified that the purpose of
this question to St. John was to locate the brother. (TR.
81.) St. John asked Trooper Lassen if there was something he
could do to help himself so he would not go to jail. (TR.
83.) Trooper Lassen testified that he told St. John there was
not. (TR. 84.)
St. John was in the cruiser, Trooper Lassen asked him about a
weed pipe found in the truck during the search. (TR. 82.)
Trooper Lassen testified he asked this question to see if St.
John would claim the pipe belonged to his brother. (TR. 82.)
Trooper Lassen did not read St. John his Miranda
rights at any point during their encounter. (TR. 78.)
Knuth located an individual matching the description given by
Trooper Lassen inside a Subway shop. (TR. 96-97.) This
individual was later identified as Naslund. (TR. 97.) When
Naslund exited the Subway shop, Trooper Knuth asked him to
stop and provide his information. (TR. 99.) Trooper Knuth
testified that he got the impression Naslund did not want to
speak to him because Naslund kept pacing back and forth and
did not want to answer questions. (TR. 99; Ex. 4.) Naslund
told Trooper Knuth that he did not have any identification.
(TR. 99.) Naslund then told Trooper Knuth that he wanted to
go back into the Subway to get a napkin. (TR. 100; Ex. 4.)
Trooper Knuth testified that, at that point, he told Naslund
that he was being detained and that he was going to be
searched for weapons. (TR. 100; Ex. 4.) Trooper Knuth stated
that as he put his notepad on his cruiser, Naslund fled on
foot. (TR. 100; Ex. 4.) Trooper Knuth instructed Naslund to
stop and get on the ground, but Naslund did not comply. (TR.
101.) Trooper Knuth caught-up to Naslund and tackled him on
Highway 30. (TR. 101.) Naslund was able to get up and run
away, but Trooper Knuth caught-up to him along a fence line.
(TR. 101.) Naslund surrendered when Trooper Knuth threatened
to tase him. (TR. 101.) Naslund was then handcuffed and
Trooper Knuth found methamphetamine in his pocket. (TR. 108.)
sustained some abrasions on his hands and wrists when Trooper
Knuth tackled him. (TR. 102.) He also had a limp. (TR. 103.)
When he was apprehended, Naslund told Trooper Knuth that he
could not breathe. (TR. 102.) Trooper Knuth testified that
Naslund was alert and did not appear to be under the
influence of a controlled substance at the time he was
apprehended. (TR. 102; TR. 107.) Trooper Knuth ...