PATRICK A. GOODWIN
STATE OF MARYLAND
Court for Frederick County Case No. 10-K-16-058943
Meredith, Graeff, Arthur, JJ.
Alan Goodwin, appellant, was convicted in the Circuit Court
for Frederick County, pursuant to an agreed statement of
facts, of one count of possession of a controlled dangerous
substance. The court imposed a sentence of four years, all
suspended, with three years of supervised probation.
appeal, appellant presents two questions for this Court's
review,  which we have consolidated as follows:
Did the circuit court err in denying appellant's motion
to suppress because the stop and frisk of his vehicle and his
person were unconstitutional?
reasons set forth below, we shall affirm the judgment of the
AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
approximately 10:00 p.m. on June 24, 2016, Officers Paul
Malatesta and Kyle Jones, members of the Frederick City
Police Department, were on assignment as part of the
"street crimes unit, " which focuses on "high
crime areas, drug activity and gang activity." They were
conducting surveillance of the Windsor Gardens Apartments, an
area well-known by law enforcement for the sale and use of
drugs, as well as gang-related activity.
officers observed appellant parked in a vehicle outside the
apartments. Another individual, later identified as Craig
Walker, walked back and forth from the vehicle to one of the
buildings in the complex multiple times. The officers did not
observe any direct "hand-to-hand" exchange of
drugs, but Officer Malatesta testified that Mr. Walker's
actions gave them the impression that he was the
"middleman" in brokering a drug deal. After Mr.
Walker entered appellant's vehicle, and they left the
complex, the officers followed the vehicle in their marked
patrol car. They recognized Mr. Walker, who was seated in the
front passenger seat, as someone on the department's
outstanding warrant list. The officers confirmed with
dispatch that Mr. Walker had an outstanding
"contempt-of-court warrant for failing to appear for
fingerprinting related to a criminal case, " and they
decided to initiate a traffic stop to apprehend Mr. Walker.
officers testified that appellant had not violated any
traffic laws or committed any infractions warranting a
traffic stop. Officer Malatesta testified that they had no
justification for stopping the car other than to effectuate
the arrest of Mr. Walker.
the police activated the patrol car's emergency lights,
appellant proceeded to slow the car, but he did not
immediately stop or pull the car over for about "3 to
400 yards." Once the car stopped, it then proceeded
"to roll a little bit further, " giving the
appearance, based on Officer Malatesta's experience, that
appellant was "attempting to buy time." The street
was lit by streetlight, and there was "not much traffic,
" so appellant could have pulled the vehicle over
appellant pulled the car over, both officers noticed him bend
down near the floorboard toward the inside of the vehicle,
completely disappearing from the officers' view for
several seconds before coming back into view. Officer Jones
testified that, based on his experience, "[g]enerally,
you don't see someone on a routine stop duck out of view
as if they're either retrieving something or concealing
Malatesta and Jones approached the vehicle, and they asked
appellant to exit and stand near the rear of the vehicle.
Additional officers arrived on the scene to assist and
effectuate the arrest of Mr. Walker for the warrant.
on appellant's furtive movements, the officers suspected
that weapons could be in the vehicle. Officer Jones conducted
a frisk of the "lunge-and-grab area" of the vehicle
where appellant was seated, and the area toward which the
officers saw him bend. He described the events as follows:
[Officer Jones]: Based on the movements of the driver, when
Officer Malatesta and I made contact, Officer Malatesta asked
the driver to step out of the vehicle, primarily for the
concern that he was retrieving a weapon, and then while he
was doing that, other officers arrived to deal with the
passenger, Mr. Walker --
[The State]: Yes.
[Officer Jones]: -- then I conducted a Terry frisk
of the actual vehicle in the reach-, lunge-and-grab area of
the driver based on those movements.
[The State]: Is this happening kind of simultaneously,
Officer Malatesta gets him out and you get right in to search
[Officer Jones]: Yeah. It's, it's all very, very
[The State]: And you stated that you saw the [appellant]
initially duck down towards the right of the car, to the
floorboard. Can you please outline for the Court the exact
area of the car that you frisked?
[Officer Jones]: The exact area was the seat, the
driver's seat; the driver's door pocket; under the
driver's seat; to the side of the driver's seat, on
both sides; the cup holder/center area; and then under the
floor mat, because that was as far down, as you can check.
cross-examination, defense counsel asked Officer Jones:
"Now, you were looking under the floor mat? … And
that's a flat piece of rubber?" Officer Jones
replied: "It's either rubber or carpet, typically -
. . . in a car, yes." Officer Jones also noted that
people sometimes have "hides" in the floor, i.e., a
hole in the floorboard of the vehicle used to hide firearms.
He further stated that he looked under the floor mat for a
gun or any weapon, including one that did not "result in
a bulge  visible to the eye."
Officer Jones lifted the vehicle's floor mat, he saw a
single syringe, the size of one used to receive a
shot. There was residue on the syringe, which
the officers believed was heroin. The police then placed
appellant under arrest and conducted a search of the vehicle
and appellant's person. From the vehicle, they recovered
a spoon and straws, and from a wallet on appellant's
person, they recovered two strips of Suboxone Film, which is
a prescribed medicine used to treat opioid
filed a motion to suppress, arguing that the stop and frisk
were warrantless and presumed to be illegal. Specifically,
counsel argued that the frisk of appellant's car was
suppression hearing, Officers Malatesta and Jones testified
regarding the events that occurred that evening, as discussed
supra. When Officer Malatesta began to testify about
the stop of the vehicle based on the warrant for Mr. Walker,
defense counsel objected on the ground that counsel had
"never seen a copy of the warrant." The court asked
whether appellant's counsel specifically requested the
document, to which counsel replied: "It's a general
discovery demand. I think it's fairly standard to produce
the warrant that's the basis for a stop. I think it's
required under what is, Your Honor, I think it was
Duggins v. State." The court overruled the
objection. The State did not produce a copy of the warrant at
the suppression hearing, nor did appellant challenge the
authenticity of the warrant.
conclusion of the testimony, defense counsel argued that the
warrantless stop, arrest, and search violated the Fourth
Amendment. He asserted that there may have been justification
for the stop, but that was questionable without the warrant.
He argued that, once the situation with Mr. Walker was
"resolved, " there was no reason for any
interaction with appellant. Moreover, counsel asserted, the
search of the vehicle was not a frisk, but rather, it was
"literally picking up the floorboards to see if
there's potentially hidden compartments that we have no
reason to, to think exist." Counsel asked the court to
suppress "each and every one of the things recovered -
the needle that's originally recovered and then, also,
the straw, spoon, [and] the Suboxone that were recovered
after a more in-depth search."
State argued that the police saw appellant in a high crime
area engaging in suspicious activity that, in light of their
experience and training, indicated involvement in a drug
transaction. The police officers followed the vehicle and
decided to stop it to arrest the passenger, who had an open
warrant. Appellant then engaged in evasive, furtive
movements. The State argued that, under these circumstances,
the police had reasonable suspicion to conduct a protective
frisk of the area where appellant was reaching down.
circuit court ultimately denied appellant's motion to
suppress. It noted that the police saw appellant at Windsor
Gardens, a high-crime area, engaging in actions consistent
with drug activity. The officers then saw Mr. Walker, who had
an open warrant for a failure to be
fingerprinted. At that point, the police "knew they
had an obligation to execute the warrant, " and they
stopped the vehicle.
court then discussed appellant's furtive actions after
the officers engaged the emergency lights on their vehicle.
It stated that the officers had reason to question appellant
regarding what transpired at Windsor Gardens. It noted:
"Meantime, Mr. Walker was taken from the vehicle by
to the frisk that ensued, the court noted that "the
biggest concern for these officers was when they saw
[appellant] do that reaching down to his right." The
What they saw that did cause them difficulty was when he
leaned over and out of sight to his right, and certainly, we
all know from whatever vehicle, some have consoles, some
don't, but there's plenty of room to hide a weapon or
at least move it out of sight, under a seat, next to a seat,
in the console, on the floorboards, whatever. That gave them
sufficient reason to be concerned as to what, what might be
there given that there had been - now, again, given that you
put that together with the fact ...