…the Government avers it would be “foolhardy” for the officers to “go about their business while allowing a stranger in their midst to possess a firearm.” We are not persuaded.
–U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, United States v. Black
While Mr. Black, a convicted felon, was certainly not a model plaintiff, a clear, well-written Federal court ruling that detaining and searching Mr. Black and seizing his concealed handgun were all illegal searches and seizures, and that the mere presence of a lawfully-open-carried handgun carried by someone else was not sufficient justification for either detention of Mr. Black or a search or seizure of him or his property, is very welcome.
More importantly, where a state permits individuals to openly carry firearms, the exercise of this right, without more, cannot justify an investigatory detention. Permitting such a justification would eviscerate Fourth Amendment protections for lawfully armed individuals in those states.
Sadly, there’s also this from the opinion:
At least four times in 2011, we admonished against the
Government’s misuse of innocent facts as indicia of suspicious
activity. See United States v. Powell, 666 F.3d 180 (4th
Cir. 2011); Massenburg, 654 F.3d 480; United States v.
Digiovanni, 650 F.3d 498 (4th Cir. 2011); and United States
v. Foster, 634 F.3d 243 (4th Cir. 2011).
…[Here,] we encounter yet another situation where the Government attempts to meet its Terry burden by patching together a set of innocent, suspicion-free facts, which cannot rationally be relied on to establish reasonable suspicion.
First, Officer Zastrow’s suspicion that a lone driver at a gas
pump who he did not observe drive into the gas station is
engaged in drug trafficking borders on absurd….
Reminds me of the equally ridiculous “affidavit” used to supposedly justify the raid that killed Jose Guerena. Gee, anybody else think that the cops and prosecutors in the 4th Circuit aren’t terribly concerned about following the law of search and seizure?