Argued: May 9, 2016
Court for Baltimore County Criminal Case No. 03-K-13-005785.
Barbera, C.J., Greene, Adkins, McDonald, Watts, Harrell, Jr.,
Glenn T. (Retired, Specially Assigned, Battaglia, Lynne A.
(Retired, Specially Assigned), JJ.
case presents us with the opportunity, yet again, to explore
the parameters of reasonable suspicion to support a
Terry stop,  as well as what constitutes an arrest for
Fourth Amendment purposes. Ira Chase, Petitioner, presents
the following questions for our review:
1.Does reasonable suspicion that an individual is engaged in
drug activity, by itself, constitute reasonable suspicion
that the individual is armed and dangerous?
2.Under this Court's case law recognizing that a display
of force by the police, such as placing a suspect in
handcuffs, constitutes an arrest requiring probable cause
absent reasonable suspicion that the suspect is armed and
dangerous, was Petitioner under arrest when he and the
co-occupant of Petitioner's Jeep Cherokee were removed
from the Jeep and placed in handcuffs, where the police had
reasonable suspicion that the two men were engaged in drug
activity in the Jeep but lacked reasonable suspicion that
they were armed and dangerous?
3.Assuming, arguendo, that the police had reasonable
suspicion to believe that Petitioner and his co-occupant were
armed and dangerous when they were removed from the Jeep and
handcuffed, was that reasonable suspicion dispelled when the
officers patted them down and found no weapons, thereby
rendering their continued detention and questioning by the
officers while awaiting the arrival of a drug sniffing dog an
arrest, and not a mere detention, that was not supported by
2013, Chase was indicted in the Circuit Court for Baltimore
County, Maryland for possession of cocaine with intent to
distribute, manufacturing cocaine, possession of cocaine and
possession of less than 10 grams of marijuana. He moved to
suppress various pieces of evidence seized by Baltimore
County police officers from his person, that being a motel
key, and from the motel itself, to include narcotics and
narcotics paraphernalia; he alleged that his detention in
handcuffs while a car that he had been driving was searched
constituted an unlawful arrest and the attendant seizure of
the motel key and discovery of physical evidence in the motel
room were the fruits of that arrest. Judge Patrick Cavanaugh
of the Circuit Court for Baltimore County denied Chase's
motion to suppress, and Chase, thereafter, entered a
conditional guilty plea to one count of possession of cocaine
with intent to distribute. Judge Cavanaugh, in denying the
motion to suppress, determined:
Okay. It's a very interesting case. I'm familiar with
all the cases you've handed up, Mr. Tompsett. The
Carter case is of particular interest, it's one
of Judge Moylan's shorter opinions. The man was stopped
or he wasn't stopped, he's already parked under the
policeman's observation when the other car pulls in.
They're backed in next to each other, it's a high
crime area. I'm familiar with the area. I don't know
how many cases I've had from that side of town involving
drugs. They're in the parking lot of the hotel, nobody
gets out of the car, goes into a hotel, don't do anything
except meet each other at a car. The furtive acts give me
some concern because of the officer's safety. They see
this going on inside the vehicle as they're approaching.
The inconsistent stories, you know, one's watching the
ballgame, the other one is going to Maryland Live Casino. I
think that's what really triggered the call for the K-9
to come out and it was fairly quick after they were stopped.
I believe the K-9 arrived within ten minutes of the police
approaching the vehicle to begin with. I think it is a
classic Terry case, (inaudible) to the high crime in the
area, drugs, we know that guns are involved with drugs. So I
can understand the concern for officers' safety. The dog
alerts on the side of the vehicle that Mr. DeLillo just got
out of and he's the one who later on states, you know, I
came to buy an eight ball to get, got fourteen grams, got
more than he came for. Certainly, got more than he came for
when he got the cuffs on him. I believe I don't have any
choice but to deny your Motion, Mr. Cardin. I think it's
a good stop, it's a good search. I was concerned about
the cuffs going on when they went on and the comments that
were made by the two gentlemen were after they were read
Miranda. They were Mirandized right away. I know you disagree
with me, Mr. Davis, you've been sitting there shaking
your head sideways since you came in the door today. The
Motion to Suppress is denied.
appealed to the Court of Special Appeals, which, in a
reported opinion, Chase v. State, 224
Md.App. 631, 121 A.3d 257 (2015), affirmed.
the suppression hearing, Detective Andrew Melnyk of the
Baltimore County Police Department testified that in
September of 2013 he and his partner, Detective Young,
assigned to the Vice/Narcotics Unit, were patrolling the area
around Security Boulevard. Detective Melnyk related that the
area was "known for illicit narcotic activity, " as
it is close to Interstate 70 and the Baltimore Beltway.
Melnyk further noted that on the evening of September
10th he and Detective Young were in the area
around the Days Inn on Whitehead Court, which they knew to be
a "high area of drug trafficking." Detective Melnyk
testified that "My unit as well as myself have
participated in numerous search warrants and apprehensions
resulting in the seizure of illicit drugs and U.S. currency,
as well as weapons[, ]" and continued to describe the
events of that evening in which two individuals interacted in
a Jeep Cherokee:
STATE: And do you recall what time of day you were on the
parking lot at the Days Inn?
DETECTIVE MELNYK: It was the evening shift, around 6:00,
STATE: And was it, was it, what position did you take on the
parking lot of the Days Inn?
DETECTIVE MELNYK: As we pulled in the parking lot, we noticed
a, a white Jeep Cherokee parked on the lot occupied later
identified by the Defendant. He was utilizing his cell phone
backed into a parking spot, so we took up a position where we
could maintain surveillance on this vehicle.
* * *
STATE: And how long did you watch the Defendant's vehicle
DETECTIVE MELNYK: Approximately two minutes when we observed
a second vehicle, a Lexus, back into a parking spot, he
actually backed in catty-corner, taking up two parking spots
next to the Jeep Cherokee.
DETECTIVE MELNYK: The driver of the Lexus exited his vehicle,
approached the Jeep Cherokee and got into the passenger side
of the Jeep Cherokee, leaving his vehicle parked like I
explained in two parking spots.
STATE: Does this type of behavior have any type of
significance to you?
DETECTIVE MELNYK: Through, through my, I've taken a forty
hour basic narcotic investigator class as well as a weeklong
class in the Academy for drug identification and
characteristics of people that are involved in the
distribution of illegal narcotics, often times nowadays
people utilize vehicles to conceal the transactions from law
enforcement as well as the hotel that they're at -
* * *
DETECTIVE MELNYK: They use the hotel to conceal the identity
of their home address. So with the Defendant in his vehicle,
as well as the Lexus pulling in and the driver of the Lexus
getting out of his vehicle into the Defendant's vehicle,
as well as the area that they're in, it's a known
high drug area, they did not utilize any services of the Days
Inn, which is where they were parked. We believed that there
was illegal drug activity taking place, or criminal activity
at that matter.
Melnyk further related that after waiting a short period of
time to see if any further activity occurred, he and
Detective Young approached the Jeep, identified themselves as
police officers and removed its occupants:
DETECTIVE MELNYK: We waited a brief period to, to see if
there was going to be any activity farther and there
wasn't. At that point, we drove our vehicle, identified
ourself as police, approached the vehicle and detained both
occupants inside the white Jeep Cherokee.
STATE: And why did you detain those two subjects?
* * *
DETECTIVE MELNYK: Based on the reasonable suspicion that they
were involved in illegal activity based on the totality of
the circumstances, the location, the lack of activity
involving the hotel room and the way they were parked, as
well as the mannerisms that, from the driver entering the
Grand Cherokee from the Lexus.
cross-examination, Detective Melnyk testified in more detail
about the furtive movements of the driver in reaching under
his seat and putting his hand in his pocket which
precipitated the removal of the driver, who turned out to be
Chase, and his companion from the Jeep Cherokee and
MR. CARDIN: All right. Now, when you say they were detained,
they were handcuffed?
DETECTIVE MELNYK: Yes.
MR. CARDIN: All right.
DETECTIVE MELNYK: The reason we take them out of the vehicle,
Your Honor, is to prevent them from accessing any sort of
weapons that could harm us. . . . They were, they were asked
to step from the vehicle at which point we placed them in
MR. CARDIN: I see.
* * *
STATE: Why did you place them in handcuffs prior to the K-9
alerting for probable cause?
DETECTIVE MELNYK: We noticed, as we were approaching the
vehicle, the driver specifically, as well as the passenger,
they were moving, looks like they were moving things around
there, reaching under the seat. The passenger immediately put
his hands in his pocket. At that point, for the safety of
myself and Detective Young, they were requested to exit the
vehicle and we put them in handcuffs just to make sure they
didn't have any weapons and detaining them. They were not
free to leave. The, the reason for the handcuffs were solely
based on the safety of everybody involved, based on the
furtive movements that we observed inside the vehicle as we
were approaching the vehicle.
Melnyk continued his testimony, recounting the differing
stories given by Chase and the other man and the
detectives' decision to request that a K-9 unit come to
STATE: And starting with the individual who got out of his
Lexus and into Mr. Chase's car, this Defendant's car,
what, if anything, did he tell you about what was going on
DETECTIVE MELNYK: He advised that he was meeting Phil and
that him and Phil were going to a hotel room to watch the
STATE: And did you speak to Mr. Chase?
DETECTIVE MELNYK: I did.
STATE: And what did Mr. Chase advise?
* * *
DETECTIVE MELNYK: Mr. Chase advised that he was going to meet
his cousin and attend the Maryland Live Casino.
* * *
STATE: Can you explain to the Court Mr. Chase's demeanor
while you were speaking with him?
DETECTIVE MELNYK: He was, he was very irate with the police
presence. He claimed that he had done nothing wrong and I
explained to him our observations which caused us to ...