Argued: September 20, 2019
from the United States District Court for the Middle District
of North Carolina, at Greensboro. N. Carlton Tilley, Jr.,
Senior District Judge. (1:17-cr-00446-NCT-1)
Lee Driscoll, LAW OFFICE OF LEZA LEE DRISCOLL, PLLC, Raleigh,
North Carolina, for Appellant.
Michael Meinecke, OFFICE OF THE UNITED STATES ATTORNEY,
Greensboro, North Carolina, for Appellee.
Matthew G.T. Martin, United States Attorney, OFFICE OF THE
UNITED STATES ATTORNEY, Greensboro, North Carolina, for
MOTZ, KING, and DIAZ, Circuit Judges.
by published opinion. Judge Motz wrote the opinion, in which
Judge King and Judge Diaz joined.
GRIBBON MOTZ, Circuit Judge:
Lee Alston, Jr., entered a conditional guilty plea to
possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug crime,
reserving the right to appeal the district court's order
denying his motion to suppress. Alston now appeals that
order. For the reasons that follow, we affirm.
recount the facts related to the suppression motion in the
light most favorable to the Government. See United States
v. Norman, 935 F.3d 232, 235 (4th Cir. 2019).
December 11, 2017, Captain Raheem Aleem of the Durham County
Sheriff's Office saw Alston run a red light. Driving
behind Alston, Captain Aleem activated his blue emergency
lights, but Alston failed to stop. Aleem watched Alston reach
deep under the passenger seat of his car - so deep that he
briefly disappeared from Aleem's view. Captain Aleem
suspected that Alston was reaching for a gun. Looking back at
Aleem and continuing to reach down, Alston slowly drove into
a parked car and came to a stop.
Aleem, concerned that Alston might try to flee, pulled up
next to Alston's car. When asked why he ran a red light,
Alston explained that he was distracted. Aleem next asked why
Alston was reaching deep under his seat, and Alston replied
that he had dropped his cell phone. Captain Aleem was
skeptical; he heard a woman's voice in an ongoing phone
call with Alston over the car's speakers and noticed
Alston holding his phone in his left hand despite reaching
under the seat with his right.
responded, "Bro, you mighty nervous, you got anything
else in the vehicle that you shouldn't have?" Alston
replied, "All I got is this little bag of weed." He
held up a small bag of marijuana and, at Aleem's ...