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Name: In re H. M.
Case #: B200933
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 3
Opinion Date: 09/29/2008
Summary

When an officer sees conduct giving rise to reasonable suspicion that a person is involved in criminal activity, and when that observation occurs in an area known for recent, violent gang crime, the circumstances go a long way toward establishing reasonable suspicion the person is armed to justify a pat search. Rampart gang officers were in the 18th Street gang stronghold investigating recent complaints of criminal activity when they saw appellant run through heavy traffic in a way that strongly suggested he was fleeing a crime, either as a victim or perpetrator. Although the detective at the scene had not had prior contact with appellant, his fellow officers recognized appellant and said his name in a conversational tone. The detective then detained appellant for crossing the street illegally, conducted a pat search and found a handgun. Appellant moved to suppress the evidence, arguing the pat search violated the Fourth Amendment because it was not based on reasonable suspicion. The appellate court affirmed the denial of the motion to suppress. “Officers in an area plagued by violent gang activity need not ignore the reality that persons who commit crimes there are likely to be armed.” Appellant’s curious behavior strongly suggested he was running from criminal activity. It was reasonable for the detective to assume that the person fleeing from a crime in a gang stronghold would likely be armed. So, the detective was justified in conducting the pat search.