Body: Hypothetical: Officer Courtney observes a subject, Mr. Eubanks, who he has reasonable suspicion, (but not probable cause), to believe has been involved in the shoplifting of a can of beer. Officer Courtney stops Eubanks.
Can Officer Courtney constitutionally conduct a frisk of Eubanks, for officer safety, prior to questioning him?
Answer: No, not under the facts provided. Shoplifters are not known to carry weapons, thus, the nature of the crime would not justify a frisk. Officer Courtney would have to articulate some facts and circumstances that would lead a reasonable officer to believe that Eubanks was armed.
Some examples include a bulge that appears to be a weapon; reaching as if reaching for a weapon; the nature of the crime suspected; prior knowledge that this individual is known to carry weapons or reliable information that the suspect is presently carrying weapons.