Attorney Ben Koll Wins Motion to Suppress and Dismiss in DWI Case
In the Spring of 2020, just after the death of George Floyd, T.R. left his friend’s house in his white pickup. He was going to call his girlfriend. While doing so he passed a police car in a strip mall parking lot. The police officer believed this to be odd but did not decide to stop T.R. for simply driving through the parking lot. Later, that morning that officer saw what he believed to be the same white pickup truck parked in the parking lot of a closed building. The Officer once again thought this was odd, so he activated his red-and-blue lights and parked in the driving lane between the pickup and the exit. The officer then approached T.R. in his vehicle. After a lengthy conversation T.R. was arrested and charged with DWI. Attorney Koll challenged multiple issues in T.R.’s case, but the prominent argument involved whether the officer could approach T.R. in the parking lot to investigate the situation.
The first thing the Judge had to consider was whether the police officer actually conducted a seizure or if he merely just approached T.R.’s vehicle like any other citizen could. Based on the officer blocking in T.R.’s vehicle, activating his red-and-blue lights, and using his spotlight on T.R.’s vehicle the Court determined a seizure did occur. Basically, the actions by the officer were investigative and not that of any ordinary citizen.
Deciding that a seizure occurred the Court had to decide whether the seizure was lawful under the circumstances. In other words, could the officer legally approach T.R. to investigate the situation. The crux of the prosecution’s argument was that the police were on heightened alert due to the civil unrest in the area and that T.R. was parked at a closed business. The Judge did not find these argument’s persuasive and agreed with our arguments instead. We focused on the fact that no reports of criminal activity were made for the area T.R. was located, that T.R. was legally parked, and even if the officer saw T.R. earlier there was no criminal activity or any traffic violations. Our office focused on two prior cases to support our argument.
The Hennepin County Judge ultimately agreed that there were no indications that T.R. was involved in any criminal activity or civil unrest. The Court determined that “a generalized reliance on the civil unrest occurring following the death of George Floyd is too unspecific and unconnected to the presence of this pickup, simply parked in a parking lot.” Upon determining that the seizure of T.R. was unlawful, the Judge dismissed the entire case.
Benjamin W. Koll is an associate attorney at Ambrose Law Firm, PLLC in Minneapolis and Woodbury, Minnesota. He graduated from Mitchell Hamline School of Law and clerked for a Ramsey County District Court Judge before joining the firm. Ben has obtained dismissals in numerous cases and is highly reviewed by his clients. Woodbury DUI Lawyer; Minnesota Criminal Defense Lawyer; and Criminal Defense Attorney Woodbury MN.