United States District Court, D. Montana, Missoula Division
L. Christensen, Chief Judge United States District Court
the Court is Anthony Jacob Lugo's Motion to Suppress.
(Doc. 19.) Lugo is charged in the indictment with possession
of a firearm made in violation of the Firearms Act,
possession with intent to distributed marijuana and cocaine,
and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug
trafficking offense. (Doc. 1.) Lugo contends that his Fourth,
Fifth, and Sixth Amendment rights were violated requiring
suppression of the evidence found in his vehicle and
statements made while he was in custody. The Court held a
hearing on November 7, 2019. After consideration of the
parties' briefs, exhibits, the testimony of Montana
Highway Patrol Trooper David Morris, and the arguments
advanced at the hearing, the Court denies the motion.
approximately seven p.m. on August 28, 2017, Montana Highway
Patrol received a call reporting a possible drunk driver on
1-90. The caller reported that a baby blue Chevrolet pickup
was swerving and speeding outside of Bozeman, Montana.
Trooper Morris responded to the call. As he approached the
truck, he noticed that it had Texas plates, a missing mirror,
and held two men and a dog. When the vehicle veered into the
left lane without signaling, Trooper Morris activated his
lights and siren to initiate the stop. (Doc. 20-1 at 1-2.)
Roughly thirty seconds later, the driver, Lugo, glanced in
his rearview mirror, noticed the trooper, and pulled over.
Despite a wide unobstructed shoulder, Lugo positioned his
vehicle in the center of the shoulder causing the
driver's-side door to hug the traffic lane to its left.
(Docs. 21; 20-2 at 2.)
Morris approached the vehicle and asked for Lugo's
driver's license, registration, and proof of insurance.
(Doc. 21.) Lugo produced his Texas driver's license but
did not have the other documentation. (Id.) As they
spoke, Trooper Morris detected an odor of raw marijuana
coming from the vehicle. (Doc. 20-1 at 2.) He also noticed a
glass gar containing marijuana on the center console of the
dashboard,  and that the car had a "lived-in
look." (Id.) Lugo was visibly nervous, and his
hands were shaking. (Id.) Unprompted, Lugo spoke in
rapid succession, informing the trooper that he had just been
in Washington at his Aunt's house, that he was headed to
Colorado to visit friends, and that he was a 100% disabled
veteran. (Docs. 20-1 at 2; 21.)
Morris then ordered Lugo to step out of the vehicle. (Doc.
21.) Lugo opened the door causing the trooper to step
backwards into the lane of traffic. (Id.) As Lugo
exited the vehicle, Trooper Morris observed a handgun in a
seat pocket on the driver's side. (Doc. 20-1 at 2.) He
asked if he could hold on to the gun during the stop, and
Lugo confirmed that this was okay. (Doc. 21.) Lugo also
indicated that there was an unloaded assault rifle behind the
driver's seat. (Id.) In light of the weapons,
Trooper Morris asked Lugo to wait by the hood of the patrol
car while he spoke briefly with the passenger and assessed
the situation with the other gun. (See Doc. 20-1 at
2.) He then frisked Lugo for additional weapons. (Doc. 21.)
was visibly nervous. (Doc. 20-1 at 2.) He expressed that he
had PTSD and asked the trooper to feel his heartbeat. (Doc.
21.) Trooper Morris declined and told Lugo to calm down.
(Id.) He directed Lugo to the front passenger's
seat and invited him to keep the door open. (Id.)
When Lugo continued to communicate his anxiety, Trooper
Morris explained that he only intended to issue a written
warning for the driving infraction. (Id.)
Lugo in the front seat, Trooper Morris went about the
business of issuing a warning and checking Lugo's driving
record. At this point, Lugo began to talk: he apologized for
his driving, for having a broken mirror, he explained that he
intended to get his oil changed and mirror fixed when he got
to Colorado, he reiterated his status as a disabled veteran,
and explained that he was tired of using pills and opiates
which is why he went to Washington to get CBD oil. When
Trooper Morris asked what CBD is, Lugo explained that it is
part of the marijuana plant that has medicinal properties but
does not result in a "high." (Id.)
light of this disclosure, Trooper Morris asked to search
Lugo's vehicle. (Doc. 20-1 at 2.) Lugo declined, but
offered to turn over the marijuana he had in his car. (Doc.
21.) Trooper Morris explained that he intended to search the
entire vehicle and would call a canine unit. (Id.)
Lugo began to panic. (See id.) He told the trooper
he might have a heart attack, and he did not "want to be
incriminated for having a little marijuana."
(Id.) Lugo again asked the trooper to feel his
heartbeat and though the trooper declined, he could see the
vein on Lugo's neck pulsating. (Id.) Lugo
volunteered the search of his body instead and offered to
give up his vape pens. (Id.) While this was going
on, Trooper Morris continued to process the paperwork related
to the traffic warning. (Id.) As the back and forth
continued, Lugo pleaded with the officer not to search his
car and expressed his fear that he would have a heart attack.
at this time that Trooper Morris elected to provide a Miranda
warning. As the trooper advised Lugo of his rights, Lugo
repeatedly interrupted: "Why am I being arrested?"
"What am I being detained for?" Still in the middle
of his warning, Trooper Morris clarified that Lugo was being
detained for having marijuana but he was not under arrest.
When he continued the warning and informed Lugo of his right
to counsel, Lugo immediately responded, "I want a
Morris once again told Lugo that he was not under arrest and
that both he and his passenger were free to leave but that
his vehicle was being detained. (Id.) Trooper Morris
then asked Lugo how he knew the passenger. From here, things
became chaotic. (See id.) Lugo and Trooper Morris
both exited the vehicle, the passenger was instructed to
leave the truck and apprised of the situation. (Id.)
Lugo and the passenger began to argue with Trooper Morris and
another officer who had arrived at the scene. (Id.)
Lugo expressed his belief that the officers lacked the
ability to search his vehicle and that his constitutional
rights were being violated. (Id.) Lugo requested the
name of the trooper's supervisor and then stated that he
would not leave the scene until the supervisor arrived.
(Id.) As things began to escalate, Trooper Morris
warned Lugo that he could not get into his vehicle and
briefly placed him in handcuffs on the assertion that he
would arrest Lugo for obstructing justice. When Lugo agreed
to calm down and leave the scene, Trooper Morris removed the
handcuffs. Sometime thereafter, Lugo and the passenger left
the scene and began to walk to town.
the traffic stop, Trooper Morris towed the vehicle into town,
and applied for and received a warrant to search the truck,
which lead officers to recover marijuana, cocaine, a digital
scale, and a ledger.
proponent of a motion to suppress bears the burden of showing
by a preponderance of the evidence that evidence was obtained
in violation of his or her constitutional rights. Rakas
v. Illinois,439 U.S. 128, 130 n.l (1978) (citing
Simmons v. United States,390 U.S. 377, ...