United States District Court, W.D. North Carolina, Charlotte Division
D. WHITNEY CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
MATTER is before the Court upon Defendant Aaron Demitri
Alexander's Motion to Suppress Evidence Related to Aaron
Alexander for Violation of His Due Process Rights (Doc. No.
1562), the Magistrate Judge's Memorandum and
Recommendation (“M&R”) recommending this
Court DENY Defendant's motion to suppress (Doc. No.
1705), and Defendant Alexander's Motion to Dismiss
Indictment as to Aaron Alexander for Violation of His Due
Process Rights (Doc. No. 1561). Defendant has failed to file
any objections to the M&R. After reviewing the relevant
memoranda, recommendations, and supporting documents, the
Court hereby ADOPTS the Magistrate Judge's M&R (Doc.
No. 1705), thus DENIES Defendant's Motion to Suppress
(Doc. No. 1562). Furthermore, for the reasons stated below,
the Court DENIES Defendant's Motion to Dismiss (Doc. No.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
district court may refer a motion to suppress to a magistrate
judge for a recommendation pursuant to Federal Rule of
Criminal Procedure 59(b)(1). If a party timely files
"specific written objections" to the proposed
recommendations, the "district judge must consider de
novo any objection to the magistrate judge's
recommendation." Fed. R. Crim. P. 59(b)(2)-(3); see
also 28 U.S.C. § 636. The court does not perform a
de novo review where a party makes only "general and
conclusory objections that do not direct the court to a
specific error in the magistrate's proposed findings and
recommendations." Orpiano v. Johnson, 687 F.2d
44, 47 (4th Cir. 1982). Absent a specific and timely filed
objection, the court reviews only for "clear
error," and need not give any explanation for adopting
the M&R. Diamond v. Colonial Life & Accident Ins.
Co., 416 F.3d 310, 315 (4th Cir. 2005); Camby v.
Davis, 718 F.2d 198, 200 (4th Cir. 1983). Upon careful
review of the record, "the court may accept, reject, or
modify, in whole or in part, the findings or recommendations
made by the magistrate judge." 28 U.S.C. §
motions both focus on three pieces of video evidence: a video
interview of third party Eric Luna, dash camera video from an
August 26, 2015 traffic stop, and body camera video from the
same stop. The Magistrate Judge conducted an evidentiary
hearing on June 19, 2018, and heard testimony from Charlotte
Mecklenburg Police Department (“CMPD”) Captain
Michael Harris and Officer Jared Decker regarding the videos.
The M&R summarizes the factual background and findings
based on the evidence presented relevant to the instant
motions as follows:
On [July 9, 2015] Defendant was present in a residence when
an arrest warrant was served on an individual identified as
Eric Luna. Defendant was found in possession of controlled
substances and also arrested. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police
conducted a videotaped interview of Luna following his
arrest. On [August 26, 2015] Defendant was a passenger during
a traffic stop conducted by Officer Decker. He was cited for
possession of marijuana. Officer Decker activated both his
dash camera and body camera during the course of the stop.
Defendant requested a copy of the videotaped interview with
Luna. Initially the Government had some difficulty in
locating the videotape. The videotape was ultimately located
and defense counsel was advised last month that a copy was
available for him to pick up. As of this hearing [June 19,
2018], counsel has not picked up his copy of the videotape.
Defendant also requested copies of Officer Decker's dash
camera and body camera videos. The dash cameras in CMPD
vehicles begin recording upon activation of blue lights or
manual activation by the officer. A body camera is manually
activated by the officer. An “Evidence Audit
Trail” maintained by CMPD documents any dash camera or
body camera recordings. While Officer Decker activated his
dash camera, there is no corresponding Audit Trail
documenting a recording from that incident. This indicates
that the system malfunctioned and no recording was made. The
Government has produced the body camera recording and
corresponding Audit Trial to defense counsel.
Defendant argues that there is missing footage from the body
camera video. Per CMPD Directives in place in 2015, if a
traffic stop evolved into a criminal investigation, the
officer was to stop the body camera from recording any
further. Officer Decker ultimately stopped recording from the
body camera during this incident and designated the video as
“criminal investigation-misdemeanor.” He later
changed the designation to “criminal
investigation-felony.” The dash camera and body camera
technology does not allow CMPD officers to delete any
recordings. The recordings are automatically deleted
by the system upon expiration of the retention period
mandated by the Directives.
Defendant filed his motion to dismiss (Doc. No. 1561) and
motion to suppress (Doc. No. 1562) on May 21, 2018. The
Government filed its responses opposing the motions on May
29, 2018, to which Defendant replied on June 1, 2018. The
Court addresses Defendant's motions and the Magistrate
Judge's recommendation below.
Motion to Suppress
the evidentiary hearing the Magistrate Judge issued an
M&R on June 21, 2018, recommending this Court deny
Defendant's motion to suppress. Defendant has failed to
file any objections to the M&R. Accordingly, the Court
reviews the M&R for “clear error” and need
not provide any explanation for its decision adopting the
Magistrate Judge's recommendations. See Diamond v.
Colonial Life & Accident Ins. Co., 416 F.3d 310, 315
(4th Cir. 2005); see also Camby v. Davis, 718 F.2d
198, 200 (4th Cir. 1983). After reviewing the Magistrate
Judge's recommendation, the Court finds no clear error;
the Magistrate Judge appropriately determined that because
there exists no evidence that law enforcement acted in bad
faith in the ...