COURT WATCH: Defense Moves to Suppress Evidence Collected during Traffic Stop, Calls Officer (Sarcastically) ‘Talented’  

LOS ANGELES- CA, MARCH 2: Los Angeles Superior Court Stanley Mosk Courthouse March 2, 2004 in Los Angeles Hills, California. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images) *** Local Caption ***

By Sarah Chayet

VAN NUYS, CA – In a Los Angeles County Superior Court pretrial conference this week, a defense motion to suppress questioned evidence obtained by officers during a traffic stop.

The accused was arrested a little over a year ago on charges of using another person’s identification with intent to defraud with a prior conviction.

Los Angeles Police Dept. Officer Michael Bloomgren was one of two officers who conducted the traffic stop of the accused on March 2, 2023, at 8:35 p.m. and testified he saw the gray 2002 Toyota…with a “rear window blocked by black duct tape and expired registration” stopped at an intersection.

“(The accused’s vehicle) made a left turn in front of us,” said Officer Bloomgren, noting he was in the passenger seat, and another officer, who Bloomgren identified as “Officer Tran,” was driving.

“(Officer Tran) advised me of the license plate, which I then put into the computer system,” said Bloomgren, who claimed to have discovered the registration was expired because he ran the plates through DMV software in the computer of the patrol car, and this was the reason the officers decided to pull the accused over.

Bloomgren said that he knew that the back window was covered in tape even from the side view because it wrapped around, adding “the contrast made it easy to know…it was the entire window.”

“It’s my job to make sure the driver is not a threat, so I cleared the vehicle to make sure there were no weapons,” said Officer Bloomgren, adding, “I observed a clear glass, bulbous pipe with an off-white residue.” Officer Bloomgren identified this pipe as an apparatus commonly used to inhale narcotics.

“(The pipe) protruded out of a brown bag,” said Bloomgren, who claimed there was also a larger black bag present in the accused’s vehicle. Officer Bloomgren said he then told Officer Tran, “Hey, partner, there is a pookie pipe in the back.” Officer Bloomgren explained to the court that “pookie pipe” was a term meaning a pipe used for inhaling methamphetamine.

According to Bloomgren, Tran advised the accused to step out of the vehicle so that they could conduct a search on the vehicle, “for a narcotics investigation.”

“(The accused) did not leave the vehicle for 20 minutes,” said O-ficer Bloomgren. “(The accused) requested to speak with a supervisor.”

According to Bloomgren, the supervisor did arrive on the scene and “advised (the accused) to exit the vehicle…(the supervisor) looked into the vehicle and resumed speaking to (the accused).”

Officer Bloomgren stated he looked inside the black bag during his investigation, and found “individually wrapped baggies that appeared to be methamphetamine…wallets with credit cards and debit cards with other people’s names on them.” There were also “identification (ID) cards, driver’s licenses, and checkbooks” within the bag, said Bloomgren.

During the cross-examination, Deputy Public Defender Jessica Erin Lester asked Officer Bloomgren to clarify that it was Officer Tran who wrote the report for the traffic stop and subsequent arrest.

“How did you (enter the accused’s plates into the system) if you were on your cell phone?” asked DPD Lester.

“I do not recall being on my cell phone,” said Bloomgren.

DPD Lester presented a recording of footage from Officer Bloomgren’s body-worn camera on the night that the traffic stop occurred; the video showed Officer Bloomgren’s hands typing on his cell phone while the patrol car was stopped at the intersection.

“You stated that, at the intersection, you were able to get the plate and see the (duct tape) while (the accused) was turning in front of you,” said DPD Lester to Officer Bloomgren.

Judge Thomas Rubinson agreed with Bloomgren, however, that it did appear that Bloomgren’s left hand left his cell phone to enter information into the vehicle’s computer.

“You testified that you were able to see all these things while typing into the computer system,” said DPD Lester. “Very talented.”

“It was dark out…there was a glare, and the vehicle’s windows were tinted,” said DPD Lester, perhaps implying that it would have been difficult to see the pipe from the outside of the car.

“I saw the pipe through the tinted window… it might’ve been open,” said Officer Bloomgren. “I can’t recall if the pipe was on the floor or on the seat.”

The court did not announce a determination yet as to the motion.

About The Author

I'm a recent California Polytechnic University, San Luis Obispo grad. I majored in English and received a minor in Studio Art. In the fall, I plans to go back to school for a master's degree in English Literature. Currently, I am a transcript editor for CalMatters, and I hope to enter the field of technical writing someday. In my freetime, I love to draw, go on roadtrips, and camp

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