District Court, Salt Lake Department The Honorable James T.
Blanch No. 141902943
Alexandra S. McCallum, Attorney for Appellant
D. Reyes and Karen A. Klucznik, Attorneys for Appellee
Diana Hagen authored this Opinion, in which Judges Gregory K.
Orme and Jill M. Pohlman concurred.
Ty William McLeod appeals the district court's denial of
his motion to suppress drug and paraphernalia possession
evidence discovered during a traffic stop. The district court
determined that the officers did not have reasonable
suspicion to extend the detention. However, it denied the
motion to suppress because the length of McLeod's
detention did not exceed the amount of time reasonably
necessary to complete an ordinary traffic stop. On appeal,
the State concedes that the "denial of the suppression
motion appears to have been based on an incorrect
understanding of the law" but urges us to affirm on the
alternative ground that the officers had reasonable suspicion
to prolong the stop. We agree with the district court that
the officer lacked reasonable suspicion. As a result, we
decline to affirm on the alternative ground, and we reverse
the district court's denial of the motion to suppress.
A police officer was patrolling 200 South 500 West in Salt
Lake City when he noticed a vehicle parked in the median of
the street. The officer watched as McLeod exited the vehicle
and jaywalked across the street. McLeod approached three
people, who pointed out that the officer was nearby. McLeod
then walked around the corner, out of the officer's
sight. The officer waited for McLeod to return to his
When McLeod returned, he got into his vehicle and pulled away
from the median without signaling. At that point, the officer
initiated a traffic stop. The officer approached McLeod's
vehicle and requested his driver license, proof of insurance,
and vehicle registration. When McLeod was unable to produce
those documents, the officer asked for his name and other
The officer returned to his patrol car to complete a records
check while a backup officer, who had arrived on the scene,
watched McLeod. During the records check, McLeod continued
"moving around quite a bit in his front seat." The
backup officer told McLeod to stop moving around, and he
The records check confirmed that McLeod had a valid driver
license and that he did not have any outstanding warrants.
The officer later testified that nothing in McLeod's
record "raised concerns of violence" or suggested
that the officer "should detain him further on . . . any
The officer also acknowledged that, "at that point, it
was either write the citation or give him a warning [for the
traffic violation]." But the officer did not write
McLeod a citation, give him a warning for any offense, or
tell him that he was free to leave. Instead, the officer
returned to McLeod's vehicle and asked whether "he
had anything illegal in the car." When McLeod said
"No, " the officer asked if he could search the
vehicle, and McLeod responded, "Sure."
As he prepared to step out of the car, McLeod reached
underneath a pile of clothes on the passenger seat. Concerned
that McLeod was reaching for a weapon, the officers ordered
McLeod out of the vehicle and frisked him, which confirmed
that McLeod did not have any weapons on his person.
The officer then asked McLeod a second time whether there was
anything illegal in the vehicle. This time, McLeod admitted
that he had a syringe in a shoe inside the car. Approximately
ten minutes had elapsed from the beginning of ...