Simple Possession Case Takes A Bizarre Turn

Tinsley-SlammedBack in April, the Vanguard covered the case of Chase Tinsley, who was arrested in August of 2013 for possession of 0.06 grams of meth by Yolo County Sheriff’s Deputy Charles Hoyt. At that time, the defendant alleged that Yolo County Sheriff’s Deputy Hoyt had conducted an illegal search, and surveillance shows the deputy slamming an apparently compliant subject into the side of a bus stop.

On Tuesday, the case took some unusual turns. First, as it seems to be happening to every case in Yolo County, Judge Samuel McAdam reduced the single felony charge for possession to a misdemeanor, per Prop. 47. He then confirmed for the afternoon a Penal Code section 1538.5 motion to suppress evidence.

It was in the afternoon that the case took an unusual turn. Deputy Public Defender John Sage told Judge McAdam that on September 23, in a Penal Code section 995 motion, a motion to dismiss one or more of the charges, the judge had dismissed the charge against Mr. Tinsley due to ineffective counsel. After some dispute with Deputy District Attorney Larry Eichele, all parties agreed that had, in fact, occurred.

Mr. Eichele had not refiled the case, meaning, according to Mr. Sage, the court no longer had jurisdiction over this matter To make matters more interesting, because the case had been reduced to a misdemeanor in the morning, the statute of limitations was reduced from three years down to one year to file charges.

Mr. Eichele disagreed that the reduction to a misdemeanor charge will cause them to lose out on the statute of limitations, however, that will be argued at the next hearing date.

Given that this is now a misdemeanor possession case, is it worth the People’s time to continue a case that is more than a year old? In the 1538.5 motion filed by Mr. Sage on October 23, he argued that the 0.6 grams of meth found in a small red plastic container was “evidence seized or obtained from (an) illegal search of Mr. Tinsley’s pockets” and that the “evidence was seized in violation of the defendant’s right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure as guaranteed by the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution.”

The events on August 25, 2013, started when Mr. Tinsley’s vehicle had caught fire at the Cache Creek Casino and was towed away at his request. Mr. Tinsley and his former boyfriend, Julian Lopez, in need of a ride, arranged with the defendant’s mother to have a taxi pick them up.

They were spotted by security seemingly loitering, and, according to one of the security officers, one of them appeared intoxicated and had urinated in the parking lot.

Mr. Lopez would be arrested for Penal Code 647(f), drunk in public, while Mr. Tinsley sat at the bus stop and cooperated as instructed.

Mr. Sage wrote, “After Mr. Lopez was handcuffed, arrested and placed in the back of the patrol car, Deputy Hoyt approached the bus stop area and commanded Mr. Tinsley to stand up. Mr. Tinsley cooperated.”

However, when Deputy Hoyt asked for consent to do a pat down for weapons, Mr. Tinsley refused consent, “but cooperated under duress when Deputy Hoyt asked him to turn around and put his hands on his head.”

Mr. Sage argued that Mr. Tinsley was wearing fitted clothing rather than loose baggy clothing, he has surrounded by a deputy a foot taller and had no history of violence. Moreover he had been cooperative throughout, as evidenced on the video, and “noted by Deputy Hoyt in his report.”

Despite this, “Deputy Hoyt believed he had sufficient Terry facts to justify and conduct a pat down for weapons without Mr. Tinsley’s consent.” During the pat down, “Deputy Hoyt reported Mr. Tinsley pulled his hand away and attempted to swing away in a rapid manner, requiring Deputy Hoyt to ‘secure’ Mr. Tinsley against the glass portion of the bus stop wall.”

However, the video shows otherwise. It shows “Mr. Tinsley making a slight movement when the deputy was patting him down near his left shoulder or armpit, and then appears to show the deputy (who appears to be approximately a foot taller and perhaps a hundred pounds heavier than Mr. Tinsley) grabbing hold of Mr. Tinsley and after moving him what looks to be a few feet, proceeding to body slam the diminutive, cooperative, unarmed defendant into the glass of the bus stop.”

Mr. Tinsley had no weapons and “remained cooperative and completely honest with the Deputy who had ‘just’ body slammed him into a glass wall inside the bus stop.”

It was at this point, that the Deputy asked if Tinsley had anything illegal inside his pants’ pocket and Mr. Tinsley said yes and that he had meth. Wrote Mr. Sage, “At that point, Deputy Hoyt removed a small red plastic container about the size of a quarter from Mr. Tinsley’s front left pants pocket, something so small that even if visible through Mr. Tinsley’s fitted clothing, that no reasonable person would mistake it for a weapon.”

Mr. Sage wrote, “Deputy Hoyt did not observe Mr. Tinsley commit a public offense in his presence.” He added, “The only basis for placing his hands on Mr. Tinsley would have to be as a result of specific and articulable facts that would lead a reasonable officer to believe that Mr. Tinsley had a weapon.”

Mr. Sage, after laying out the rules set down under Terry v. Ohio, argued that Mr. Tinsley’s conduct gave Deputy Hoyt no reasonable suspicion that Mr. Tinsley possessed a weapon or represented a danger.

Mr. Sage argued, “Simply put, Deputy Hoyt, in his report, listed no factors which would warrant a man of reasonable caution in the belief that the action taken against Mr. Tinsley was appropriate. If no Terry facts were present, the only basis for which Deputy Hoyt could search Mr. Tinsley would have to be based on the personal consent of Mr. Tinsley. Consent which Mr. Tinsley DENIES was ever given.”

Mr. Sage added, “In the present case, the search which uncovered the evidence the prosecution now seeks to introduce against Mr. Tinsley occurred after Mr. Tinsley was forcibly detained by Deputy Hoyt and no consent to search was allegedly obtained. There were no circumstances intervening between the detention and any alleged consent. Finally, the official misconduct represented by these officers’ actions is grave in nature. Where law enforcement officials subject an individual to detention in the absence of any kind of articulable suspicion particular to that individual, they violate the letter and spirit of the Fourth Amendment proscription against unreasonable searches and seizures.”

He continued, “Deputy Hoyt did not have probable cause to arrest Mr. Tinsley (and subsequently, search him incident to that arrest) because no crime was committed in the deputy’s presence; nor did he have explicit or implied permission to search him. Because the unlawful detention violated the defendant’s Fourth Amendment rights, all evidence seized following the illegality must be suppressed as ‘fruit of the poisonous tree.’ “

Given that this is now a misdemeanor charge, even if Mr. Eichele can convince Judge McAdam that the statute has not run on refiling charges, is this really worth the district attorney’s time and effort when the video evidence fairly clearly backs up the arguments made by Mr. Sage?

—David M. Greenwald reporting

About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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  1. sisterhood

    Perhaps justice in this case would be for Deputy Hoyt to attend a gay bar for several hours, in tight fitting clothes,  while hunky gay guys were allowed to pat him down as much as they wanted. I originally was going to suggest that they be allowed to shove him against a wall, too, but I think the multiple pat downs would be sufficient punishment. Then again, maybe he’d enjoy it…

    1. Rich RifkinWDE 73

      This comment is quite strange;, and presumably it is meant as an attack on gays? I am not sure if “sisterhood” intended to be offensive, or if gays are offended by it, but it strikes me as inappropriate and oddly violent.

      1. sisterhood

        I think gay guys are hunky, so, no, it is not gay bashing. Could suggest three or four lovely bars in lavender heights where I’ve enjoyed many evenings with pals. Was upset when I read the description of a heavily armed cop physically abusing a gay guy in clothing that appeared he was unarmed and fully cooperating. But I will not apologize for the previous post and it is not oddly violent. If you think any gay person was offended, then that reader can write a post and describe why. What the cop did was “oddly violent”. Thinking outside the box for justice….

        1. Rich RifkinWDE 73

          You suggested that he go to a gay bar in order to be violently assaulted by gays. It does not matter your feelings about who is or is not hunky. You also (probably unintentionally) seem to think that these “hunky guys” have no morals and would somehow enjoy attacking this person. Very strange. Not very thoughtful.

        2. tj

          Your comment is hilarious!  Thanks very much.  Turnabout for Hoyt would give him something to think about.   Has he given any thought to whether he’d like to be patted down against his wishes.

      2. sisterhood

        Interesting that your comment is driven by my remarks, rather than the cop’s behavior. My remarks are “very strange” and “not very thoughtful”….

        the cops behavior is also very strange and not very thoughtful.

        1. Barack Palin

          The cop did nothing wrong.  Tinsley had meth on him, didn’t want to be searched and turned away from the cop rather abrupty while the cop was trying to search him.  For all the cop knew Tinsley was trying to get away so he had to push him up against the glass to secure him.  It’s not like the cop then started beating the guy or anything like that once he had him secured again.

        2. Davis Progressive

          the cop did a lot wrong.  he had no reason to believe that tinsley had drugs on him, was on drugs, or was dangerous and yet he precipitated the entire incident without any legal basis to do so.  and then he overreacted to the slightest movement.  but even if you throw out the overreaction based on the arm movement, you still don’t have a lawful search.  given that this is now a misdemeanor, this should go away.

  2. Tia Will

    I do not know the correct term for this kind of assault,  but it seems clear that assault is what occured and  in my opinion that is what Deputy Hoyt should be charged with and the applicable penalty applied. With one small difference. Unpaid administrative leave until appropriate retraining is completed is he hopes for and is a candidate to  retain a job in law enforcement. Perhaps a desk job with lower compensation would be appropriate ?

  3. Michael Harrington

    Interesting story.  Without the Vanguard the public would be completely ignorant of what our law enforcement and court agencies do with these smaller but important process type of cases.

    Remember to donate!

    1. Davis Progressive

      harrington is right on here.  this is the type of case that drives people nuts about yolo county.  gotta go for the “w” no matter what it is.  this is now a misdemeanor drug case, the officer completely screwed up in terms of handling, and we’re not going to get the excuse that this is a repeat offender, because he’s not.  he’s a first time offender, eligible for pc 1000, but why take it when the police had no reason to search him – no whatsoever.  why is the da still pursuing this case?

  4. sisterhood

    The DA knows the cop behaved poorly, so they re punishing the person the cops abused. That way Mr. Tinsley will think twice about filing any charges of police misconduct. Intimidation, pure and simple, IMHO

    1. hpierce

      I hope you are wrong, as regards the motivation to prosecute the defendant. ‘Hope’ being the operative word.  The officer, if the ‘facts’ support it, should be disciplined, in my opinion, up to and likely including dismissal from his position.

  5. Frankly

    However, the video shows otherwise. It shows “Mr. Tinsley making a slight movement when the deputy was patting him down near his left shoulder or armpit,

    Reading through this it appears to me that this entire “debate” comes down to an assessment over what constitutes enough of a movement by the suspect to justify the actions of the cop.

    But to get to that simple final point one would have to shed emotional bias over the sexuality of suspect and that having any influence over the actions of the cop.

    1. Davis Progressive

      actually the question is before he even gets to that point – did he have a reason to even go that far?  you have a cooperative individual with no erratic behavior, can you justify a search?  the officer’s overreaction to his movement only heightens the dilemma and plays to the officer’s state of mind.

    2. Anon

      And we would have to see the video for ourselves to determine if the writer of this article’s view of things is accurate.  I clicked on the picture, to see if it was a video, but got nothing but a larger view of a very unclear picture.  Sometimes video footage can be very damning, e.g. Rodney King beating, but other times it can be quite ambiguous.  I just don’t know about this case until I see the video footage for myself, and even if I did see the video, it still may not be clear to me what happened.  Just don’t know.

        1. Barack Palin

          After watch the video I fully agree with the cop’s statement:

          During the pat down, “Deputy Hoyt reported Mr. Tinsley pulled his hand away and attempted to swing away in a rapid manner, requiring Deputy Hoyt to ‘secure’ Mr. Tinsley against the glass portion of the bus stop wall.”

        2. Davis Progressive

          in what way does it look like he was trying to get away, especially since he was completely cooperative, sitting in the bus stop for three minutes by himself – he could have run off there if he had wanted to.  the cops were surrounding him, he was boxed in, he had nowhere to go.  what it looks like to me is that his arm slipped out – but regardless, i don’t believe it was a lawful detention at that point.

        3. Barack Palin

          It looked to me that when the cop started searching his pockets and knowing that he had meth on himself that he pulled away and made a slight move which to me makes it totally reasonable that the cop thought he might have been trying to get away.

    1. Barack Palin

      I guess it all depends on what prism one sees things through, if one dislikes cops then cops can do nothing right, but if one thinks cops have a tough job and are out there for the public’s good and safety they tend to see things from a perspective of how dangerous and hard their jobs are and can see why they react the way they do in certain situations.

      Actually when I’m wrong and illogical about something that’s the Barack side of me coming out.

  6. Anon

    1.  “Articulable suspicion” is a term very open to lots of interpretation.  If a suspect is sweating too much, his eyes are darting here and there, etc.  These are things that will not show up in a video, but could be considered as potential “articulable suspicion”.

    2.  As you can see from the comments above, two different people saw the same video and came up with two opposite conclusions.  This is why it is so hard to “Monday morning quarterback” these types of situations.  The video does not necessarily tell all.

    In some cases, the video will tell all, as in the recent case of a police officer that shot a driver reaching for his wallet to get his driver’s license, which the driver had just been told to do by the police officer.  The police officer was fired, and rightly so.

    One of the problems with police work is that it requires heightened awareness/vigilence and split second decision-making.  I remember a horrible case where a mother looking for work left her 6 year old son home alone w no lights on, tying the door shut.  A nonspecific complaint of some sort from a neighbor brought the police to the door of this woman’s home.  Because the door was tied shut, the police officer was on high alert, adrenaline pumping.  With gun drawn, he untied the door and cautiously entered into a pitch black room.  A shadow moved with what appeared to be a gun.  The officer shot and killed the 6 year old boy.  Even though no charges were filed, the officer quit the police force and had a very difficult time dealing with what he had done.  Police work is a dangerous and very tricky business.

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