from a judgment of the circuit court for Fond du Lac County
No. 2013CF428: RICHARD J. NUSS, Judge.
Neubauer, C.J., Reilly, P.J., and Hagedorn, J.
Courtney C. Brown appeals from a judgment of conviction for
one count of possession with intent to deliver cocaine, in
violation of Wis.Stat. § 961.41(1m)(cm)1r. (2017-18),
a repeater. Brown's conviction followed the discovery of
cocaine on his person after he was pulled over by a police
officer for a noncriminal traffic violation. Brown contends
that the circuit court erred in denying his motion to
suppress evidence. He argues that the officer lacked
reasonable suspicion to continue the detention of Brown
during the traffic stop when the officer requested that Brown
exit the car and consent to a search of Brown's person
after the officer wrote a warning ticket. Brown contends that
the requests unlawfully extended the duration of the traffic
stop. We disagree and therefore affirm.
The relevant facts were testified to by Officer Christopher
Deering of the Fond du Lac Police Department at the hearing
on Brown's motion to suppress and are largely undisputed,
except as noted. Brown also testified.
On August 23, 2013, at 2:44 a.m., Deering observed a vehicle
coming from a cul-de-sac of closed businesses. Deering ran a
check and learned that the vehicle was a rental car.
According to Deering, "people that traffic drugs often
use rental cars." Deering followed the car and saw that
it did not properly stop at a stop sign. He initiated a
As Brown identified himself, the officer noticed that Brown
was not wearing a seat belt. When asked, Brown stated that he
was coming from the "Speedway," which was
inconsistent with Deering's observation that Brown came
from the cul-de-sac. To confirm, Deering asked if Brown was
"coming directly from Speedway to here," to which
Brown replied in the affirmative. Brown stated that he had
been at his girlfriend's house earlier. He knew the
intersection by the house, but he did not know the address or
her last name. When asked where he was headed, Brown said,
"nowhere really, right now." Brown said he was from
Milwaukee. Deering testified that Milwaukee is considered a
"source city for drugs."
Deering returned to his car with Brown's driver's
license to write a warning for the no seat belt violation.
Two other officers arrived in separate vehicles to assist.
Both officers stood on the side of Brown's car, but made
no contact with Brown at any point. Deering described their
roles as "safety officer[s]."
Deering ran a records check and learned that Brown had many
drug arrests and had been convicted of possession with intent
to distribute cocaine and armed robbery. Deering inquired as
to whether a canine was available to conduct a dog sniff, but
was told neither the city nor county had one on duty. Deering
completed the written warning.
Deering returned to Brown's car, opened the door, and
asked him to step out. Deering and Brown walked to the
officer's car. Deering asked Brown to place his hands
behind his back. When asked why he wanted Brown out of the
car, Deering explained it "would be an awkward
encounter" to search someone by reaching through the
window, as Deering had already planned to ask Brown to
consent to a search.
Deering asked Brown if he had anything on him that Deering
should know about. Brown said "no." Deering made
this inquiry to find out if Brown had "any illegal
weapons or drugs on him." When asked if he considered
this traffic stop to be "high-risk," Deering
testified "no." When asked if he had concerns that
Brown had weapons, Deering testified, "He could have
[weapons] but there was-I guess, there's no specific
factors to lead to that."
Deering then asked for permission to search Brown. Deering
testified that Brown consented; Brown testified that he said
"no." Deering searched Brown and found thirteen
bags of crack cocaine and approximately $500 in cash. Deering
still had Brown's driver's license and the written
Brown was charged with one count of possession with intent to
deliver cocaine. Brown moved to suppress the evidence,
asserting he was illegally stopped. After a hearing, the
circuit court denied the motion, finding that the traffic
stop was lawful. Brown does not appeal this ruling.
Brown then filed a motion to suppress the evidence on the
ground that the officer unlawfully extended the noncriminal
traffic stop beyond the initial purpose. He argued once
Deering had completed writing the ticket, the stop should
have been over, and Deering lacked reasonable suspicion to