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Thursday, December 29, 2011

Ind. Decisions - Another Supreme Court opinion today

In State of Indiana v. Amanda Renzulli, a 12-page, 4-1 opinion, Justice David writes:

We have granted transfer in this case to address whether a police officer had reasonable suspicion to stop a vehicle based on a concerned citizen’s tip of a possibly intoxicated driver. At 1 a.m. on April 23, 2009, a 911 call was made by a motorist who identified himself and provided his phone number. The caller complained that he had been following a driver of a blue Volkswagen who had been driving erratically and was going to “kill somebody.” The caller told the 911 operator the vehicle just pulled into a BP Gas Station. Within 90 seconds, an officer arrived at the BP Gas Station and observed the blue Volkswagen. With this corroboration, the officer made an investigatory stop of Amanda Renzulli. The trial court granted Renzulli’s motion to suppress the evidence on the grounds that there was no reasonable suspicion for the stop. We hold that the police officer in this instance did have reasonable suspicion and reverse the trial court. * * *

Based on the totality of the circumstances, we hold that Davies supplied sufficient information to establish reasonable suspicion to support the investigatory stop. Those circumstances include the time of day with little vehicular traffic, vehicle color and make, location of the vehicle, and almost immediate response and arrival at the scene by the police. We further arrive at this conclusion because Davies identified himself and provided a telephone
number.[5] We hold in this case with these facts, based on the totality of the circumstances, the police had reasonable suspicion based on articulable facts to briefly detain Renzulli for investigatory purposes.
[5] It may be advisable in the future for 911 operators to take further identifying information from concerned citizen tips. Information such as date of birth and home address, along with the name and telephone number of a concerned citizen would give greater reliability to these types of tips. This information would potentially place the concerned citizen under penalties of false informing and would help alleviate the concern of a possible imposter or prankster.

Shepard, C.J. and Sullivan, J., concur.
Dickson, J., concurs in result without opinion.
Rucker, J., dissents with separate opinion. [that begins at p. 11 of 12] After conducting an evidentiary hearing, the trial court granted Renzulli’s motion to suppress the evidence. The trial court concluded that the officers responding to the 911 call did not “establish[] an independent and objective basis to create a reasonable suspicion of criminal behavior necessary for an investigatory stop.” I agree with the trial court and therefore respectfully dissent.

ILB: Interestingly, the COA opinion was split 1-1-1. See the ILB entry at Oct. 5, 2010.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on December 29, 2011 02:10 PM
Posted to Ind. Sup.Ct. Decisions