United States District Court, D. Utah, Central Division
ORDER AND MEMORANDUM DECISION
J. Shelby, U.S. District Court Judge
Gregorio Efrain Gomez, who has been indicted for robbing a
bank, moves the court to suppress evidence found during a
warrantless search of his car on May 20, 2017, in Wellington,
Utah. During the traffic stop (and before the officers
obtained evidence of bank robbery), he was arrested for
falsely identifying himself to the police officer who pulled
him over. Following the arrest and a conversation between Mr.
Gomez and the officer, the officers searched the entire car.
According to Mr. Gomez, the officers had no right to conduct
response, the Government asserts the search was valid because
Mr. Gomez gave consent to search the car, and, alternatively,
the officer legally obtained the evidence during a search
incident to arrest. Mr. Gomez argues his consent was not
voluntary because the officer coerced it, the officer could
not reasonably have believed evidence of the crime of
arrest-giving a false name to a police officer-would be found
in the car, and the scope of the search exceeded any consent
that was ostensibly given.
on the totality of the circumstances, the court finds that
Mr. Gomez voluntarily consented to a search of the entire
Accordingly, the motion to suppress is denied.
afternoon of May 20, 2017, Officer Andrew Olson of the Price
City Police Department was on routine patrol in his car.
While in the parking lot of Wal-Mart, he noticed two men (the
Defendants) in a Mitsubishi car with Colorado license plates.
Their behavior, in his opinion, was suspicious. Defendant
Gregorio Efrain Gomez was the driver and his co-defendant
Nicholas Mobley was the passenger. Officer Olson, who
suspected illegal drug trafficking, followed the car out of
the parking lot.
drove alongside the Mitsubishi for a time, and neither man
looked his way. That increased his suspicion: “I looked
at them as I matched our windows together, and they - we have
what's called locked at the wheel, where the driver
appeared - they appeared as statues to me. They didn't
look at me, stayed looking forward, which was another
indicator to me . . . [o]f suspicious activity.” (Tr.
of Dec. 12, 2017 Evidentiary Hr'g at 16, ECF No. 35.)
followed them for about seven miles into Wellington, Utah,
the town next to Price City. When the car slowed down to turn
into a gas station, the driver braked and the third brake
light did not light up. In Utah, it is illegal to drive with
a broken brake light. Officer Olson saw his chance to pull
the men over, so he turned his emergency lights
That activated the dashboard camera, which recorded the
encounter Officer Olson had with Mr. Gomez and Mr.
came to a stop, and Officer Olson, who was wearing a body
camera,  walked up to the driver's side of the
car. He explained why he had pulled them over. He then asked
Mr. Gomez for his driver's license. Officer Olson also
asked what brought them to Utah and received what he believed
to be an evasive answer. He asked Mr. Mobley for
identification, but Mr. Mobley responded that he had none.
(Later in the stop he produced a valid identification card
from the State of Colorado.)
Gomez looked through his backpack but did not produce a
driver's license or any other proof of identity. Officer
Olson asked him for his name. Mr. Gomez lied and said his
name was Bryant Anthony Reyez and that he was born on
September 9, 1992.
Officer Olson asked Mr. Mobley for his name, Mr. Mobley
declined to provide his name. At that point, Officer Olson
said he needed to identify the two men and if they could not
provide evidence of their identities, he would have to take
them to the jail and fingerprint them. Mr. Mobley then gave
his name and date of birth.
Olson asked for registration and proof of insurance. Mr.
Gomez searched through papers in the car and although he
eventually produced an insurance card and the registration,
both were expired. In the meantime, Officer Olson saw Mr.
Mobley unhook his seat belt. Concerned that Mr. Mobley was
attempting to run away, Officer Olson ordered Mr. Mobley to
put the seat belt back on. Although Mr. Mobley complied,
Officer Olson called for backup.
attempt to confirm the driver's and passenger's
identities, Officer Olson gave Mr. Mobley's name and Mr.
Gomez's alias to his dispatch operators. Dispatch could
not confirm Mr. Gomez's identity based on the false
information he provided. Officer Olson continued to press Mr.
Gomez for other information that would confirm his identity,
such as information on his phone or a social security number,
but Mr. Gomez only provided an address.
after that, other officers arrived. Two officers positioned
themselves by the car, one behind the car and the other next
to the passenger-side door. Both were holding their guns just
above their holsters, but not in a way that Mr. Gomez and Mr.
Mobley could see. Mr. Gomez and Mr. Mobley were calm and
cooperative and did not appear to pose an immediate threat.
After a few minutes, the backup officers put their guns back
in their holsters. At that point, four patrol cars were
parked behind the Mitsubishi.
ten minutes after stopping the car, and unable to confirm Mr.
Gomez's identity, Officer Olson told Mr. Gomez to get out
of the car. While Officer Olson conducted a
Terry frisk looking for weapons, Mr. Gomez said
something to the effect of “Can I be honest with you
sir?” (Body-Cam Video at 11:20.) He then confessed that
he lied about his identity and that his real name was Gregory
Gomez. Officer Olson handcuffed Mr. Gomez and said he was
being detained for falsely identifying himself to a police
Mr. Gomez to the hood of the patrol car (where Mr. Gomez
could see all of the police cars and officers), Officer Olson
searched him and asked him again whether they had anything
illegal in the car. During a rapid colloquy, Officer Olson
obtained what he believed to be consent to search the entire
car. That discussion can be heard on the video recording
taken from Officer Olson's body-cam:
Officer Olson: Anything illegal in the vehicle?
Mr. Gomez: No.
Officer Olson: Is it okay if I take a look?
Mr. Gomez: There's nothing in there.
Officer Olson: Well, I'm going to take a look, where,
I can take a look where you were seated ‘cause
that's search incident to arrest, so I'm asking for
your permission man, because cooperation goes a long way with
Mr. Gomez: Okay, sir.
Officer Olson: So it's up to you.
Mr. Gomez: I, I have nothing illegal. You ...