Anonymous Tip

Traffic Stop | Anonymous Tip | Felony Tossed

Anonymous Tip Traffic Stop
Here is a brand new case that should help with “Anonymous Tip” traffic stops.
No. 4D09-4719
Appellant, George McKelvin, appeals the trial court’s order adjudicating him guilty of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon (Count I) and possession of cocaine (Count II). McKelvin pled no contest to the charges following the trial court’s denial of his motion to suppress. The court sentenced McKelvin to concurrent terms of three years in prison followed by two years probation on both counts. We hold that the trial court erred in denying McKelvin’s motion to suppress and reverse. 
At the hearing on McKelvin’s motion to suppress, Detective James Gibbons and Detective Leonard Tinelli testified that on September 23, 2008, they received information from an unidentified anonymous source who approached them while they were on an unrelated stop. The source told them that a black male in a burgundy or red Dodge Charger with 23 or 24-inch chrome rims was engaged in “narcotics activity.” The person specifically described a black male who was between 50 and 55 years old, about 5’9” or 5’10”, who had short cropped hair and who weighed between 180 and 195 pounds. Detective Tinelli specified that the source told the officers that the car “continuously drove into the Budget hotel/motel . . . five or six times a day.” The source gave them the tag number of the vehicle. Finally, the source told the officers that s/he had witnessed “hand-to-hand transactions” in which the occupant of the Charger would take money from a person and give the person an object. The detectives were dressed in police tactical gear which contained clear markings identifying them as police officers. 
The source wanted to remain anonymous.  . . 
Without contact information or some other way to locate the informant if necessary, the informant in the present case is no different than an anonymous informant who provides detailed information over the phone to the police dispatch. The tipster approached the officers while they were engaged in an unrelated stop. There is no record evidence of how long the police interacted with the informant or whether they were able to discern his/her credibility during their encounter. As the police admitted they did not witness so much as a traffic infraction before initiating the stop, the officers did not have reasonable suspicion, and the trial court erred in denying the motion to suppress.
Reversed and Remanded. 
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