in the Court of Appeals 23 August 2018.
by defendant from judgment entered 23 October 2017 by Judge
Imelda J. Pate in Sampson County Nos. 15CRS051319-20 Superior
Attorney General Joshua H. Stein, by Assistant Attorney
General Nick Benjamin, for the State.
Jeffrey William Gillette for defendant-appellant.
T. Jones ("Defendant") appeals the trial
court's denial of his motion to suppress. Defendant
argues his constitutional rights were violated when officers
unnecessarily extended a traffic stop without reasonable
suspicion. We disagree and affirm.
and Procedural Background
10, 2015, Defendant was a passenger in a rental car driven by
Jelisa Simmons ("Simmons"). Deputies Ronie Robinson
("Deputy Robinson") and Dustin Irvin ("Deputy
Irvin") with the Sampson County Sheriff's Department
initiated a traffic stop of Simmons' vehicle because
Defendant was not wearing a seatbelt. Deputy Irvin approached
the passenger side of the vehicle and observed the passenger
seat "leaned back very far" while Defendant was
leaning forward with his head near his knees in "a very
awkward position." Deputy Irvin also observed that
Defendant's hands were around his waist and not visible
to Deputy Irvin. Due to the way that Defendant was "bent
forward," it appeared to Deputy Irvin that Defendant
"was possibly hiding a gun." When Deputy Irvin
introduced himself, Defendant glanced up at him, looked
around the front area of the vehicle, but remained seated in
the same awkward position. Deputy Irvin testified that, based
upon his training and experience, Defendant's behavior
was not typical.
Deputy Irvin advised Defendant that the traffic stop was
initiated because Defendant had not been wearing his seat
belt, Defendant apologized. Deputy Irvin asked for
Defendant's identification, but Defendant was unable to
produce any document to verify his identity. However,
Defendant stated that he was "not going to lie"
about his identity. Deputy Irvin testified that, based upon
his training and experience, use of the phrase "I'm
not going to lie to you" or other similar phrases were
signs of deception. Deputy Irvin asked Defendant to exit the
vehicle due to Defendant's unusual behavior and because
Defendant could not provide any identification.
the suppression hearing, Deputy Irvin testified as follows:
[Deputy Irvin:] I asked [Defendant] if he would step out of
[The State:] And why did you do that?
[Deputy Irvin:] Just based off of his behavior. First of all,
I couldn't see his hands. He was leaned forward as if he
was hiding something in his lap. And also-[Defendant]
didn't have his identification. So for me to complete my
action of investigating the seat belt violation, I would need
to know who [Defendant] was, and for that, I would need his
name, his date of birth, sometimes I would need an address,
just depending on how common the name is. And to do that, I
would need to run all of his information through our law
[The State:] And is that database something you have in your
[Deputy Irvin:] Yes. It is something we can pull up on our
terminal inside of our patrol vehicle that's mounted
inside the vehicle.
[The State:] And so it's mounted inside the ...