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Name: People v. Cox
Case #: C057500
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 3 DCA
Opinion Date: 11/21/2008

A defendant’s choice to flee and resist arrest are independent intervening causes sufficiently distinct from an illegal detention which will cure its taint. Police purportedly tried to stop appellant for walking down the middle of the street in violation of a Sacramento ordinance. He ran away, and tried to punch an officer when he was chased. He was charged with resisting an executive officer. The trial court denied appellant’s motion to suppress evidence of his resistance, finding the detention was legal because appellant broke the law. On appeal from the denial of the motion to suppress, the court found the initial detention was unlawful. Appellant was acting lawfully when police tried to detain him because the city ordinance is preempted by a contrary Vehicle Code section, and, as such, is unenforceable. The court also agreed that the officers’ mistake of law did not justify the detention. There is no good faith exception for a police officer who does not know the law. But, the court found appellant’s subsequent conduct in resisting the officers was an independent act that dissipated the taint from the unlawful detention. The officers’ detention, illegal though it might have been, did not procure their subsequent observations of appellant’s resistance to arrest. “Unlike tangible evidence that is uncovered when police conduct an unlawful search, defendant’s reaction here to being detained was not inevitable, but an independent decision he himself made, amounting to an intervening circumstance that cured the taint.” On this ground the court affirmed the denial of the motion to suppress.