Despite Calling Officer Actions ‘Lame,’ Judge Rejects Motion to Suppress; Does Reduce Car Theft Case to Misdemeanor

By Samuel Van Blaricom

WOODLAND, CA – Judge Dave Rosenberg here in Yolo County Superior Court Friday denied a motion to suppress evidence in a case where Deputy Public Defender Aram Davtyan argued the grounds for a pat-down were questionable.

The judge did, however, reduce the charges against the defendant, Jvion Brown, from a felony receipt of a vehicle to a misdemeanor.

In a case that dates back to pre-COVID Jan. 2020, officers Ryan Fong and David Asaro responded to a dispatch call for suspicious activity in a parking lot. When they arrived at the scene, they found the defendant and four others conversing.

The officers approached the group, asked them to sit on the sidewalk, and then proceeded to give them pat-downs. The search yielded a pocket knife on one individual and a stolen Hyundai key that was found on Brown.

The question raised in court was whether the pat-downs were lawful.

“Just because they do it a bunch doesn’t make it right,” said PD Davtyan, with regard to the frequency of pat-downs testified to by Officer Asaro. “Suspicious activity is not enough to detain someone.”

Deputy District Attorney Alex Kian responded, saying that “it’s a factor-based situation. We have it at 10 o’clock at night, a high crime area, suspicious activity.” His argument hinged on the necessity of the pat-down for officer safety and the context surrounding the call.

PD Davtyan held his ground, saying, “They were all detained, and they were sat down on the curb, and they were searched one by one. None of them made a fuss, they all complied, there was no reason for the officers to believe that they were actually armed and dangerous.”

“When I look at all of the factors in this case, I do not find that the police conduct was over the line,” concluded Judge Rosenberg after hearing their arguments. He did agree, however, that the suspicious activity foundation was “kind of a lame call.”

After the motion to suppress was denied, PD Davtyan changed tact and aimed for a reduction of the charge from a felony to a misdemeanor on the grounds that Brown is only 22 and has no criminal record. Judge Rosenberg granted this request.

“I’m willing to give him a chance because he’s young. When you’re young you do stupid things—once, not twice,” he said with a fixed stare at Brown.

A pre-trial conference is scheduled for Nov. 5 at 9 a.m.

About The Author

Samuel is an incoming senior at UC Davis with a major in English. He is originally from Roseville, CA.

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