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United States v. Carter

United States District Court, D. Maryland

December 3, 2018

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
v.
KEVIN CARTER, Defendant

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          RICHARD D. BENNETT UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         On March 28, 2018, a federal grand jury returned an indictment against Kevin Carter ("Carter" or "Defendant"), charging him with felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g). (Indictment, ECF No. 1.) Currently pending before this Court are the Defendant's Motion to Suppress Statements (ECF No. 19) and Motion to Suppress Evidence (ECF No. 20). The parties' submissions have been reviewed, and this Court held a hearing on the motions on November 28, 2018. For the following reasons, the Defendants' Motions (ECF Nos. 19, 20) are DENIED.

         BACKGROUND

         Based on the testimony and exhibits presented at the November 28, 2018 hearing, this Court makes the following findings of fact with respect to this matter. On February 27, 2018, Baltimore City Police Officer Dean Michael McFadden of the District Action Team for the Northwest District of Baltimore was on duty driving a marked patrol vehicle along with Officer Kyle Kruesi.[1] Around 4:30 p.m., the officers were traveling northbound on the 4600 block of Reisterstown Road when they observed an individual wearing two hooded sweatshirts with one hood up. Although it was late February, the temperature was around fifty-four degrees Fahrenheit.

         As Officer McFadden drove the marked patrol vehicle past the individual, he looked back and recognized the individual as Kevin Carter, the Defendant. Officer McFadden recognized Carter from "probably around a hundred" interactions he had with him while working in the Northwest District, including when responding to controlled drug substance ("CDS") calls. He recalled that Carter was very confrontational and outspoken during his interactions with police officers, and he had never seen him hide or otherwise evade any police officers.

         Officer McFadden testified that when he looked back and recognized Carter, it appeared that Carter made eye contact with him and immediately stopped walking. Carter then went from one yard of a home to another before crouching down behind shrubbery. Interpreting Carter's behavior as attempting to evade the marked patrol vehicle, Officer McFadden pulled the vehicle over to the side of the road. Officer McFadden testified that at this time, Carter was approximately four to six row homes behind the vehicle. He then began backing the vehicle up in order to turn it around and get a better visual of Carter. When Officer McFadden began to move the vehicle, however, he testified that Carter stood up and began sprinting towards an alley. Officer McFadden then turned onto Virginia Avenue and Officer Kruesi exited the vehicle to pursue Carter on foot. At this time, Officer McFadden also turned on his body worn camera to capture video footage and observed Carter running back onto Reisterstown Road.

         The Defendant Carter also testified during the motions hearing, and he offered a different account of the events that led to him running down Reisterstown Road. Carter testified that on February 27, 2018, he was taking a walk when he became tired on Reisterstown Road. He then sat down on a nearby stoop and began to look at his phone. He testified that as he was looking at his phone, he heard a noise "in the cut" between row homes behind him. Prior to hearing this noise, he testified that he had not seen any police officers on Reisterstown Road. When he got up to investigate the noise, however, he saw a police officer running towards him. Carter testified that he had never seen a police officer "in the cut" before. Scared and panicked, he then began running away from the officer.

         As Carter sprinted southbound, he saw Officer McFadden in the patrol vehicle. Video footage from Officer McFadden's body worn camera shows Officer McFadden identifying his location as "Reisterstown Virginia." While Carter was running down Reisterstown Road, Officer McFadden testified that he observed Carter reach with his hand into the left backside of his waistband, and the video footage indicates Officer McFadden saying "he is reaching." Officer McFadden also activated the patrol vehicle's emergency lights. After Officer McFadden stopped his vehicle in an attempt to block Carter, he exited the vehicle and pursued Carter on foot. As Officer McFadden yelled "come here Carter" and "get on the ground Carter," Carter continued to sprint down Reisterstown Road in and out of traffic. Carter testified that he did not stop running because he was scared for his safety. While the chase continued, Officer McFadden testified that he again saw Carter reach to check his waistband.

         When Officer McFadden became close enough to Carter, he shoved him, causing Carter to hit a fence. When Carter hit the fence, a firearm slipped out of his back waistband and hit the ground. At this time, Officer Kruesi caught up to Carter and Officer McFadden and secured the firearm. Subsequendy, Carter was arrested.

         After the officers arrested Carter, they drove him to the police station. At first the officers and Carter were approached by medical personnel, requested by Officer McFadden because a glass liquor bottle that had also been in Carter's waistband had broken.[2] When Carter refused medical attention, the officers transported Carter to homicide headquarters. Officer McFadden's body worn camera captured statements made during the ride to headquarters, including Officer McFadden asking for Carter's address. When Carter continued to make additional statements and ask questions, Officer McFadden refused to answer and read Carter his Miranda rights. Carter verbally acknowledged that he understood his Miranda rights.

         The Court having seen portions of the video of the interview of Carter, it is clear that prior to beginning the interview, Detective Niedermeier read Carter his Miranda rights and gave him a Miranda waiver form. Officer McFadden testified that pursuant to Baltimore Police Department practice, prior to initiating an interview officers give suspects a Miranda waiver form that lists each individual Miranda right. The officers then read aloud each right, ask the individual if he or she understands them, and ask the individual to initial next to each right to confirm their understanding. Pursuant to this policy, Detective Niedermeier read Carter his rights and Carter acknowledged his understanding by initialing next to each right. (Gov.'s Exh. 4.) Carter did not, however, sign the bottom of the form. (Id.)

         Throughout the interview, Officer McFadden and Detective Niedermeier were not armed and exhibited a calm demeanor while speaking with Carter. Neither Officer McFadden nor Detective Niedermeier threatened Carter, promised him anything, or offered him anything in exchange for making a statement. Rather, the video recording of the interview shows Carter, unsolicited, telling the officers that he has useful information and that he is willing to share the information if they allow him to go home. The video shows the officers responding by telling Carter that if he wants a deal for exchanging of information, he should speak with an attorney. Moreover, when Carter requested to use a cell phone to call his girlfriend and speak with a detective he knew, the officers permitted him to use his cell phone and brought the detective into the interview room.

         One month later, on March 28, 2018, a federal grand jury returned an indictment against Carter, charging him with felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g). (Indictment, ECF No. 1.) Subsequently, on July 13, 2018, the ...


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