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Judge Suppresses Traffic Stop Based Solely on Witness Description of Car

The Salem News

July 28, 2010

PEABODY, MA — When Peabody police arrested a pair of brothers in an early morning robbery of a Route 1 motel last September, a department spokesman praised it as good teamwork by officers in two parts of the city.

But last month, a Salem Superior Court judge tossed out the stop of the suspects’ car and the items found inside — including a gold neck chain and cash taken in the holdup — finding that police had no legal basis to stop the car when they did.

Prosecutors are now deciding whether to appeal Judge David Lowy’s decision to the Appeals Court. If they do not, or if they lose a further appeal, they’ll have to drop the unarmed robbery charges against Clovicel Davis, 29, of Beverly and Curtis Davis, 37, of Salem for lack of evidence.

Early on the morning of Sept. 10, police on Route 1 went to the Plaza Motel to take a report of a robbery from a clerk, who said two men came in, one with his hand in his pocket as if to suggest he had a gun, and pushed the clerk toward the front door, as the second man grabbed the clerk’s chain.

While the officers were taking the report from the clerk, a woman some five miles away on Central Street, near the downtown, called to report that two men, who had been in a light-colored car, were involved in a violent fight outside her home.

The officer responding to the call about the fight spotted a light-colored car, which he believed to be the one in the fight, near Peabody District Court. He stopped the car to investigate and saw money in plain view, which police later tied to the robbery.

Police justified the stop by saying that it was the only car in the area and that it matched the description given by the caller reporting the fight.

Lowy, in his decision, found that the officer had no way of knowing if it was the only car in the area, because he was on Lowell Street when he got the call and wouldn’t have been able to see any other cars turning off or onto Central Street.

That means there could have been any number of light-colored cars being driven in the area at that point, the judge found.

Prosecutors argued that the Appeals Court has previously upheld a stop when it involved the only car on the road. But Lowy said that case involved a stretch of state highway with minimal traffic, as opposed to a busy residential and business district with many side streets. Further, the judge noted that the officer apparently did not try to determine whether there were other cars in the area.

“There are many busy streets in the area of Peabody Square where light-colored cars travel during all hours,” Lowy (who grew up in Peabody) wrote. “There was nothing in the 911 call to distinguish the car the police stopped from any other light-colored car with two people in it.”


To see more of The Salem News or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to http://www.salemnews.com/.

Copyright © 2010, The Salem News, Beverly, Mass.

Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

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  • Photo_user_blank_big

    Anonymous

    over 3 years ago

    waaay too much time in the country cliub

  • Snoopy_6_max50

    Jonas

    over 3 years ago

    41146 Comments

    And they call California the left coast..................

  • Me_last_wk_max50

    delano388

    over 3 years ago

    4318 Comments

    give me a freaking break. that judge sucks

  • Img_1050_max50

    Irishcop1961

    over 3 years ago

    46006 Comments

    With judges like this, I'm glad I'm getting closer to retirement.

  • 1051193310_l_max50

    95Zcar

    over 3 years ago

    3992 Comments

    This is what happens when liberal judges are appointed or elected to the bench...

  • Ribbon_max50

    mkiprotection

    over 3 years ago

    2384 Comments

    That judge needs locked up!

  • 911_max50

    fnmc22

    over 3 years ago

    212 Comments

    This is insane!!!!...I had a incident a few years ago drivin from work one night...it was around 9pm or so in the fall, Next thing I know, i have a LEO behind me with lights on and two more charging at me from the front!,...They stop me on a bridge, get out with weapons drawn, ordered me out of the vehicle, which i complied. did everything they said, had me on the ground, and the next thing I hear is,...its a orange truck not a red truck...(my truck was red). So anyway, a 711 or something got robbed like 1/2 mile down, I was the only vehicle on the road that I knew of,...now,..did I bitch?! NO!...I can totally understand, I had to clean my shorts after the whole ordeal,...I didnt know WTH was going on at the time!!!....BUT the LEO's did what they had too...no hard feelings here,...and BTW they did get the bad guys in the end.

  • Img00039_max50

    bfriskey

    over 3 years ago

    980 Comments

    Getting pretty tiring to read this stuff..I question the sanity of the politicians, public, and courts.. IMHO

  • 1979_max50

    Robocop33

    over 3 years ago

    14600 Comments

    Also, I wonder if their SCJ are elected? If so they need to use this case as a reason to toss his butt to the curb. Clearly a bad ruling.

  • 1979_max50

    Robocop33

    over 3 years ago

    14600 Comments

    What the hell? I know Mass is very liberial but damn it, the victim gives a description and you cannot use it for probable cause! What if they told them it was a w/m, 60 yrs with gray hair, glasses and weighs about 200 lbs. That means if they stop someone fitting that description and find evidence on him he did the robbery you can rule it inadmissible as you had no PC to stop this individual!? No wonder the USA is going to hell in a hand-basket!

  • 183974_10150146586172640_115059992639_7801208_7665591_n_1__max50

    TearsofPower

    over 3 years ago

    198 Comments

    I think that was a great stop and that these liberal ass judges need to be de-throned. Judges like this make our jobs harder and cause us difficutlilies on the street when that stop was black and white no gray area to debate. WTF!!!!!!! I wonder how the judge would would feel if he was a victim of said crime and the judge on this case threw it out.

  • John_groh_max50

    wiseass0282

    over 3 years ago

    10986 Comments

    This is total bull. That Judge needs to be thrown off the bench. What an idot ! That was a good stop in my book.

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