February 8, 2018
from the United States District Court for the Eastern
District of Wisconsin. No. 2:14-cr-99 - J. P. Stadtmueller,
Flaum, Easterbrook, and Manion, Circuit Judges.
April 2014, a Verizon store in the Milwaukee area was robbed.
Prior to the robbery, witnesses in the store noticed a
Mercedes sitting in the parking lot for an extended time.
Just before the robber entered through the store's rear
door, the Mercedes drove to the back of the store. As the
robber fled, the Mercedes sped away at a high speed. Police
stopped the Mercedes and arrested its occupants, including
defendant. He moved to suppress evidence obtained after his
arrest, arguing police lacked probable cause. The district
court denied that motion. We affirm.
April 4, 2014, a Verizon store located in Hartford, Wisconsin
was robbed. Hartford Police Department (HPD) Sergeant Timothy
Hayes conducted the investigation. He spoke with two
eyewitnesses: Eric Safranski, a Verizon employee, and
Marshall Retler, a customer. According to the witnesses, the
robber, later identified as Londell King, entered through the
rear of the store, threw a black duffle bag on the ground,
and demanded cell phones. When his demands were not
immediately met, King pulled out a pistol. After Safranski
provided cell phones from the store's inventory, the
robber ran out the back door of the store.
witnesses noticed a suspicious Mercedes in the Verizon
store's parking lot in the moments preceding and
following the robbery. In Sergeant Hayes's words:
They had said that shortly before the robbery took place
there was a tan Mercedes that was in front of the store with
two subjects inside; and they appeared-in their opinion [to
be] watching them, watching the store. The individuals in the
car did not go into any of the stores. They simply stayed and
watched the store. After doing this for a few minutes, the
Mercedes drove to the rear of the building out of their
sight. And shortly after [the Mercedes] went back there, the
individual came up and robbed the store. … [A]fter the
store was robbed, the witnesses said the Mercedes came in
there [sic]-their own words-flying from the back-one said
zoomed at a high rate of speed … . [Safranski] said
that he did not believe that the robber would have been able
to get in this vehicle with the direction that he was running
in. And he also made the comment to me at one point that he
thought that this vehicle was some sort of decoy, getting the
attention away from the actual robber [and] where he was
going after he committed the robbery.
Safranski nor Retler could say for certain whether the robber
arrived at the store in the Mercedes.
on his experience, training, and the eyewitness testimony
about the Mercedes's actions, Sergeant Hayes concluded
the "vehicle … wanted to draw attention to
itself" and "was used as a decoy to get law
enforcement and witnesses to follow it … while the
individual who actually did the robbery was able to basically
run out and get away in another vehicle." In short,
Hayes believed the two individuals in the Mer- cedes
"were involved" as "an accessory" to the
provided Sergeant Hayes the Mercedes's license plate
number, and Retler told Hayes that the Mercedes had tape on
the driver's side front bumper. Hayes relayed that in-
formation to HPD dispatch, which put out a notice that the
Mercedes was involved in "an armed robbery in
progress." Soon thereafter, a police officer from a
neighboring village saw the Mercedes. After advising HPD, he
stopped the vehicle at HPD's request.
driver of the Mercedes was Naqur Bean; the passenger was
defendant Devon Howard. The occupants did not match Sergeant
Hayes's description of the suspected robber, and police
found no evidence in the Mercedes suggesting involvement in
the robbery. However, because Hayes believed the Mercedes
acted as a decoy, he ordered Bean and Howard to be arrested
and driven to HPD headquarters.
headquarters, police separately interrogated both suspects.
Bean initially declined to speak. Howard at first denied any
participation in the robbery, but later admitted his
involvement over the course of a five-hour
interrogation. Howard told police that Bean drove him to
the store because he did not have a valid driver's
license. He also identified King as the robber. After Howard
confessed, he spoke with Bean for ten-to-fifteen seconds. At
that point, Bean was willing to speak with police, and she
implicated herself and Howard by stating they acted as
lookouts. After Howard and Bean's statements, the police
arrested King. He confirmed Howard and Bean assisted with the
Verizon robbery, and also said they were involved with prior
robberies. The next day, police executed a search ...