Submitted: May 23, 2017
Defendant's Motion to Suppress Evidence and Dismiss
Charges. Summarily denied.
Stephen E. Smith, Esquire, Department of Justice, Dover,
Delaware; attorney for the State of Delaware.
M. Stiller, Jr., Esquire of Schwartz & Schwartz, Dover,
Delaware; attorney for the Defendant.
William L. Witham, Jr. Resident Judge
the Court is a motion to suppress filed by the Defendant,
Dennis L. Stevens. In his motion, Mr. Stevens seeks to
suppress "any and all evidence of wrongdoing"
acquired by law enforcement following the detention of Mr.
Stevens pursuant to a traffic stop occurring on December 1,
Stevens stands accused of Resisting Arrest with Force or
Violence, Disregarding a Police Officer's Signal,
Improper Turn, Driving while License Suspended or Revoked,
Failure to Have Insurance Identification in Possession,
Failure to Have Registration Card in Possession, Failure to
Stop at a Stop Sign, Reckless Endangering in the Second
Degree, and Assault in the Second Degree.
facts are fairly straight forward. On December 1, 2016,
Officer Donaldson, a K-9 handler, was on patrol with his K-9
partner "Ripper" and Probation and Parole Officer
David Angelo, both officers were assigned to the Governors
Task Force of Kent County. At around 3 p.m., Corporal
Donaldson saw Mr. Stevens's vehicle turn without
utilizing its turn signal. Soon thereafter, Corporal
Donaldson initiated a traffic stop.
Donaldson then approached Mr. Stevens's vehicle and asked
to see his driver's license, registration, and proof of
insurance. Mr. Stevens then began to search through his car
for these documents, but was unable to produce them to
Corporal Donaldson. When Corporal Donaldson again requested
Mr. Stevens' driver's license, Mr. Stevens started
his vehicle and fled. Returning to his patrol vehicle,
Corporal Donaldson, accompanied by Officer Angelo, gave
pursuit. While Fleeing, officers observed Mr. Stevens
violated numerous traffic laws, including failing to stop at
a stop sign, and failing to use his turn signal. Soon
thereafter, Mr. Stevens abruptly stopped his vehicle and
Corporal Donaldson's vehicle struck Mr. Stevens's
vehicle from the rear. Mr. Stevens then put his vehicle in
reverse and backed up into Corporal Donaldson's vehicle,
ramming it twice.
Stevens exited his vehicle and fled on foot. Officers gave
Mr. Stevens verbal commands to stop, but Mr. Stevens
continued running. Officer Angelo pursued on foot while
Corporal Donaldson released his K-P partner
"Ripper" to chase down Mr. Stevens. Officer Angelo
overtook Mr. Stevens, tackling him to the ground.
"Ripper" then overtook the two men, and, in the
confusion, attacked and injured both Officer Angelo and Mr.
Stevens argues that the traffic stop in this case was
illegal, as law enforcement lacked reasonable suspicion to
initiate a traffic stop against Mr. Stevens. Further, Mr.
Stevens asserts that the real reason for the traffic stop was
Corporal Donaldson's pretextual motivations.
State responds that the traffic stop was validly initiated:
Mr. Stevens was seen committing a traffic violation. The
State also argues that Corporal Donaldson's subjective
motivations are irrelevant to the validity of the traffic
stop, and in any case, ...