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Name: People v. Walker
Case #: H037287
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 6 DCA
Opinion Date: 10/18/2012
Summary

Defendant was unlawfully detained based on an officer’s objectively unreasonable opinion that the defendant resembled a suspect of a sexual battery that occurred one week earlier and his presence at the scene of the battery in a high crime area. A deputy sheriff stopped Walker, a young black man, at a light rail train. The deputy suspected that Walker might be one of two young black male suspects involved in a sexual battery a week before at the same train station. Walker was arrested after he produced false identification. A search incident to the arrest yielded cocaine base and marijuana. After the trial court denied Walker’s 1538.5 motion, he pleaded guilty. On appeal, Walker contended that the detention, warrantless search, and arrest constituted an unreasonable search and seizure because the deputy did not have a reasonable suspicion supporting his decision to detain Walker. The appellate court agreed and reversed. Walker’s alleged resemblance to one or both of the suspects from a week old battery did not provide probable cause to detain him. There was no match between physical descriptions; Walker was detained because of his race and age. The fact that Walker was seen at a station, which presumably had a high volume of foot traffic and ridership, where a sexual battery had occurred a week earlier was of little or no significance in establishing reasonable suspicion. The notoriety of the area as a market for narcotic sales was not a significant factor in justifying the detention for a sexual battery. Although the deputy had the right to seek Walker’s voluntary cooperation, absent a reasonable suspicion that Walker was involved in criminal activity, he could not compel that cooperation by detaining him. Since Walker’s arrest was based on the unlawful detention, and the search was incident to arrest, reversal was required.