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Reid v. State – Fourth Amendment and Stun Gun

Fourth Amendment – Seizures & De Facto Arrest – Use of a Stun Gun

In Reid v. State, 428 Md. 289, 292 (2012), the Defendant was convicted on an agreed statement of facts of wearing, carrying, or transporting a handgun and of being in possession of a handgun after conviction of a disqualifying offense.  According to the agreed upon statement of facts, the police received an anonymous phone call that a tall, black man was armed and selling drugs at a particular location.  Id. at 293.  The police responded to the location and observed a tall black male.  Id. at 294.  The officers, while wearing their uniforms, approached the Defendant and the Defendant turned away from the police, apparently in an effort to conceal something from them.  Id.  The officers continued to approach him and the Defendant ran, the officers called for him to stop, and, when he did not, they fired a taser into his back.  Id.  Once tased, the Defendant stated that he had a gun on him and the police seized the gun.

Relying on United States v. Colon, 654 F.Supp.2d 326 (E.D. Pa. 2009), the trial court held that the police had reasonable articulable suspicion to conduct a Terry stop of the Defendant and, moreover, that firing the taser into his back did not rise to the level of an arrest.  Reid, 428 Md. at 296.  On appeal, the State argued that the officer’s actions were the equivalent of a “hard take down,” that the Court of Appeals found to be a Terry stop in In re David S., 367 Md. 523 (2002).

In David S., the Court found that pointing a gun at an individual and telling him to get on the ground was not an arrest.  Id. at 297-98.  Although the Court noted that “the use of drawn weapons or handcuffs does not per se convert a Terry stop into an arrest, so long as those tactics are reasonable measures designed to ensure officer safety,” id. at 298, the Court held that “a person shot in the back with two metal darts . . . would reasonably believe that he or she was not free to leave the encounter, especially when . . . a medical technician would have to have removed the prongs.”  Id. at 302.  The Court went on to hold that the police lacked probable cause to arrest the Defendant at the time they tased him.  Id. at 306.  Accordingly, both the handgun found on his person and his statement to the police after being tased were suppressed.  Id.