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Saturday, December 31, 2011

Ind. Decisions - "Supreme Court OKs police stop based only on tip"

The Supreme Court's decision Thursday in State of Indiana v. Amanda Renzulli (ILB summary here) is the subject of a story by Dan Carden in today's NWI Times. Some quotes:

A police officer can pull over a driver based on a concerned citizen's 911 tip, even if the officer never witnesses suspicious behavior, the Indiana Supreme Court ruled Thursday.

On April 23, 2009, Andrew Davies called 911 from his car in Plainfield, Ind., to report a possible drunken driver in a blue Volkswagen on the road ahead of him pulling into a gas station.

Officers arrived at the gas station 90 seconds after Davies' 911 call and pulled over a blue Volkswagen as the driver was beginning to back up. * * *

[The driver, Amanda Renzulli] asked the trial court to suppress the evidence obtained in the traffic stop because the officer had no independent reason to pull her over.

The court agreed, saying police did not witness any suspicious driving before making a stop, did not know whether Renzulli was driving the vehicle prior to its arrival at the gas station and did not notice whether any other blue Volkswagens were at the gas station. The Indiana Court of Appeals upheld that ruling, 2-1.

But in a 4-1 decision, written by Justice Steven David, the Supreme Court said the information provided by Davies gave officers enough reasonable suspicion to briefly detain Renzulli for investigative purposes.

Davies' willingness to give his name and telephone number to the 911 operator along with a vehicle description made his tip independently reliable, especially with officers stopping Renzulli almost immediately after Davies called, the court said.

Justice Robert Rucker, a Gary native, dissented from the court's ruling. Rucker said police should be required to independently corroborate a citizen's tip to establish reasonable suspicion for a stop.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on December 31, 2011 04:27 PM
Posted to Ind. Sup.Ct. Decisions