from a judgment of the circuit court for Milwaukee No.
2015CF4444 County: WILLIAM S. POCAN, Judge. Affirmed.
Kessler, Brash and Dugan, JJ.
Damien Markeith Divone Scott appeals his conviction for armed
robbery with the threat of force as a party to a crime. Scott
entered a guilty plea to this charge after the trial court
denied his motion to suppress the evidence that was found
during a vehicle search. The vehicle, in which Scott was a
passenger, was stopped by West Allis police at a road block
that was set up shortly after the armed robbery was
committed. Scott argues that the police did not have
reasonable suspicion to stop his vehicle, violating his
Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable searches
and seizures, which renders the stop illegal. As a result,
Scott asserts that the evidence obtained from the subsequent
search of the vehicle should have been suppressed.
The trial court ruled that the circumstances of the stop
qualified as a valid Terry investigative stop, as
opposed to a "checkpoint" stop, which is not
permitted in the absence of reasonable cause that a statutory
or ordinance violation has been committed, pursuant to WlS.
STAT. § 349.02(2)(a) (2015-16). The trial court therefore
denied Scott's motion to suppress.
However, on appeal the State concedes that these
circumstances did not constitute a Terry stop.
Nevertheless, the State argues that these circumstances were
sufficient to invoke an exception to the reasonable suspicion
requirement of the Fourth Amendment for special needs of law
enforcement. We agree and affirm.
In the early morning hours of September 29, 2015, an officer
of the West Allis Police Department was "waved
down" by a female outside of the 6500 Bar, located at
6500 West Greenfield Avenue in the City of West Allis. The
female, L.B., stated that she had just been the victim of an
armed robbery. L.B. explained that she was the co-owner of
the 6500 Bar and had just closed it for the night. She had
offered to give two people a ride home: A.W., a patron of the
bar, and Cory Critton, who was later named as a co-defendant
in this crime.
L.B. had in her possession at the time an animal print purse
and a bank bag with the night's proceeds from the bar.
She stated that as soon as she had gotten into her vehicle
with A.W. and Critton, they were approached by a black male
brandishing a handgun that was similar to a police service
weapon. He was wearing a dark sweatshirt with a white design
on the front, and had a bandana over his face. He ordered
L.B. to give him both the bank bag as well as her purse.
Additionally, Critton handed over two cell phones to the
perpetrator. L.B. told Officer Jesse Fletcher that the
perpetrator had then fled on foot, running east on Greenfield
Avenue before turning into an alley between 64th and 65th
Officer Erin Luedtke of the West Allis Police Department
responded to the armed robbery complaint as well. Officer
Luedtke testified that standard police department protocol
for this type of situation is for several officers to set up
a perimeter around a crime scene to "contain the
area" for purposes of searching for and identifying
suspects. She explained that in her experience, perpetrators
of crimes "tend to use vehicles to flee the scene."
Thus, because the crime had taken place within the previous
few minutes, she took up a position at the intersection of
65th Street and Madison Street, approximately one block away
from the crime scene. She positioned her squad car across the
southbound lane of 65th Street, effectively blocking the
intersection of 65th Street and Madison Street, and activated
the squad lights.
While at that location, Officer Luedtke encountered three
vehicles. The first vehicle contained two Hispanic males who
were dressed in blue jumpsuits, consistent with uniforms worn
by workers from a nearby factory. The occupants immediately
confirmed that they had just finished work at the factory, so
Officer Luedtke allowed them to proceed around her squad car.
In the second car that Officer Luedtke confronted there were
two black males, one of whom was driving and the other in the
passenger seat. She noted that the passenger's sweatshirt
was inside-out but had some sort of design on it, and that he
was sweating and very nervous. By that time other officers
had responded, and the passenger, later identified as Scott,
was ordered to exit the vehicle. Scott appeared to search for
a means of escape, and then began to physically resist the
officers. He also attempted to grab Officer Luedtke's
service pistol as well as an assault rifle that was strapped
to another officer. The officers were eventually able to gain
control of Scott, and he was taken into custody along with
the driver, Damiso Lee.
After the arrests, the vehicle was searched; the police
discovered two Glock pistols as well as a bank bag and an
animal print purse. Furthermore, the police later retrieved
messages from Critton's cell phone that was recovered
from Scott, which indicated that Critton had set up the
robbery with Scott. Critton, Lee, and Scott were all charged
with armed robbery, with Scott incurring additional charges
of disarming a police officer and resisting arrest.
Scott filed a motion to suppress the evidence found in the
vehicle, asserting that Officer Luedtke's stop of his
vehicle was illegal because she did not have reasonable
suspicion for the stop. At the motion hearing held on
February 4, 2016, the trial court determined that the
foundational issue was to ascertain the nature of the stops
that Officer Luedtke had performed on both Scott's
vehicle as ...