By Lovepreet Dhinsa
SACRAMENTO, CA – Despite claims here in Sacramento County Superior Court by Assistant Public Defender Ali Sameera that there was an unreasonable search and seizure by two Sacramento police officers, Judge Allen Sumner ruled against Kevin Clemmons this week and set his case for trial.
The report provided the court alleged that Officers Brandon Lundgren and Daton Ford were dispatched to an AutoZone shop for a domestic violence report initially involving a male and female in the store, and reported by the store manager.
The police report said the store manager had been told by the female that she had been previously punched in the face by her significant other, who was sitting outside in a vehicle.
The couple had already left the store by the time the officers arrived. Both officers were parked at opposite sides of the vehicle. One officer parked to the right side of the defendant’s vehicle and one parked to the left.
The defendant was sitting in his own car facing the building, when Officer Lundgren approached and put a spotlight on the vehicle. The officer said he saw an amphetamine pipe in the front console holder.
According to the body camera footage, Officer Lundgren asked the defendant if he had anything illegal on him, allegedly before he saw this amphetamine pipe. Upon seeing this, he asked the defendant to get out of the car and advised Officer Ford to detain the defendant.
Once the defendant was detained, Officer Lundgren began his search of the entire car because he thought it was “very common for additional drugs to be located in the same area.” He didn’t find drugs, but found a .22 caliber firearm.
It was not clear whether the defendant had a license for this firearm or not. Upon confiscating the firearm, the pipe was removed from the vehicle. The pipe was only removed after the firearm had been discovered, about which the defense explained the intentions behind the officers.
Deputy District Attorney Emilia Davinagracia argued that the officers were not simply “lucky” when they discovered the firearm, but rather they had probable cause to search and seize.
The defendant then asked the officer if this was about the marijuana he had, but Officer Lundgren never replied. Officer Lundgren also could not recall this information in court.
When the assistant public defender questioned the officer about whether he saw any residue on the pipe itself, Officer Lundgren could not recall any specifics of what he saw.
Officer Lundgren stated that “from other cases I know that people put in large amounts of amphetamine in the pipe to smoke in portions,” and so he assumed that amphetamine was actually in the pipe at that time.
When the public defender asked whether Officer Lundgren knew the difference between a pipe for amphetamine and one for marijuana, he stated that “amphetamine pipes had a small hole at the bottom and have a bulbous end on only one side.”
Because of his five years of experience and training within the field, Officer Lundgren said that he knew the differences between the pipes.
When PD Sameera questioned the officer about how he knew that this specific pipe was for amphetamine, Lundgren stated that “the best way to describe it is seeing an orange and apple on a table. You can see the differences after working this long in the field. We see it frequently and it’s used for only one thing: to smoke amphetamine.”
However, the officer admitted he only found marijuana in the defendant’s vehicle, not any amphetamine.
Despite not finding any physical evidence of amphetamine within the vehicle or on the defendant’s person, the officers detained and arrested the defendant.
Moreover, the officers both testified that they were able to see the alleged amphetamine pipe in the front console through “moderately tinted windows” even though it was dark outside.
Officer Lundgren testified that his attention was drawn specifically to the defendant’s car, despite not having a description of the car.
When asked what specifically drew his attention to the defendant’s vehicle, the officer replied that it was the position of the car (the vehicle closest to the store entrance) and that he saw some movement occurring in the car.
The officer said he could not determine how many people were in the vehicle, but just the fact that he saw some kind of movement within the vehicle.
PD Sameera argued that the officers violated a 4th Amendment right against unreasonable search and seizure, without probable cause.
The PD said not only did the defendant not match the description of the suspect involved in the domestic violence report, but it also would have been very difficult to observe any specific items in the tinted car for officers to determine probable cause.
The motion to suppress was denied, and the judge ordered a jury trial for April 26.
Lovepreet Dhinsa is a junior undergraduate student at the University of San Francisco, pursuing her bachelor’s degree in Politics with a minor in Legal Studies. She has a passion for criminal defense law, and strives to go to law school to fight for indigent clients. As such, she is also involved in her university’s mock trial program and student government.
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