Published on: Monday, August 7, 2023

Group of folks were smoking pot outside a Washington, D.C. apartment building. Officer stops and sees one guy back away and raise his hands. Cop: "Just making sure there's no guns, that's it." Show me your waistband. Guy: "No. I'm cool" and shows waistband. Cop: Noticing some bulges, says "lift your shirt again" and nodded at another cop who just arrived to approach guy. Man: Runs away, throws gun in bushes, is arrest and charged with felon in possession. Guy: that was an illegal seizure! District court: No, it wasn't! The cop's first request wasn't a seizure, and for the second there was reasonable suspicion. D.C. Circuit: Yes, it was! First request was a seizure, and evidence must be suppressed. There was “reasonable, articulable suspicion” of criminal activity when the initial demand was made. First concurrence: Cops freak people out; we should construe seizures broadly. 

The case is United States v. Gamble, No. 22-3017 (D.C. Cir. Aug. 1, 2023).