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United States v. Sanford

United States District Court, N.D. Iowa, Eastern Division

November 24, 2014



LINDA R. READE, District Judge.


The matter before the court is Defendant Dontay Dakwon Sanford's Objections (docket no. 31) to United States Magistrate Judge Jon S. Scoles's Report and Recommendation (docket no. 24), which recommends that the court deny Defendant's Motion to Suppress ("Motion") (docket no. 18).


On July 23, 2014, the grand jury returned a one-count Indictment (docket no. 2) charging Defendant with possession of a firearm and ammunition by a felon in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1). On October 2, 2014, Defendant filed the Motion. On October 9, 2014, the government filed a Resistance (docket no. 21). On October 14, 2014, Judge Scoles held a hearing on the Motion. See October 14, 2014 Minute Entry (docket no. 22). Defendant appeared in court with his attorney, Anne Laverty. Special Assistant United States Attorney Lisa Williams represented the government. On November 5, 2014, Defendant filed his Objections. The Objections and Report and Recommendation are fully submitted and ready for decision.


When a party files a timely objection to a magistrate judge's report and recommendation, "[a] judge of the court shall make a de novo determination of those portions of the report or specified proposed findings or recommendations to which objection is made." 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1); see also Fed. R. Crim. P. 59(b)(3) ("The district judge must consider de novo any objection to the magistrate judge's recommendation."); United States v. Lothridge, 324 F.3d 599, 600 (8th Cir. 2003) (noting that a district judge must "undertake[] a de novo review of the disputed portions of a magistrate judge's report and recommendations"). "A judge of the court may accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part, the findings or recommendations made by the magistrate judge." 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1); see also Fed. R. Crim. P. 59(b)(3) ("The district judge may accept, reject, or modify the recommendation, receive further evidence, or resubmit the matter to the magistrate judge with instructions."). It is reversible error for a district court to fail to engage in a de novo review of a magistrate judge's report when such review is required. Lothridge, 324 F.3d at 600. Accordingly, the court reviews the disputed portions of the Report and Recommendation de novo.


On July 6, 2014, the Waterloo Police Department received a call from an employee at a local bar that someone was making threats. The area around the bar has "a very high call volume" and has many violent crimes such as large fights, shootings and stabbings. Hearing Transcript at 50. At approximately 1:15 a.m., police dispatch relayed the threats over the radio and described the subject making the threats as a black male with dreadlocks, wearing a white shirt and blue shorts.

Officers Ryan Muhlenbruch and Dustin Yates responded to the call. Officer Muhlenbruch arrived on the scene first and spotted an individual who matched the description provided by dispatch. This individual was later identified as Defendant. Officer Muhlenbruch stopped his patrol car in an alley where Defendant was walking and observed Defendant heading towards a parked vehicle. Officer Muhlenbruch exited his patrol car and called "hey, partner" and motioned for Defendant to come towards him. There were multiple other individuals in the alley, one of which was seated in the driver's seat of the same parked vehicle. In response to Officer Muhlenbruch's words and motions, the individual in the driver's seat exited the vehicle with his hands in the air and walked away from the scene. Defendant, however, looked at Officer Muhlenbruch and proceeded to enter the front passenger's side of the vehicle and close the door.

Officer Muhlenbruch approached the vehicle with a flashlight and observed Defendant leaning down in the passenger's seat acting as though he was concealing something under his seat. Officer Muhlenbruch drew his firearm and instructed Defendant to exit the vehicle with his hands up. Officer Muhlenbruch immediately recognized Defendant from previous violent crime incidents. Being the only officer with multiple other individuals on the scene, Officer Muhlenbruch pressed Defendant against the vehicle with his firearm drawn. Shortly thereafter, Officer Yates arrived on the scene, at which point Officer Muhlenbruch placed Defendant in handcuffs, performed a pat-down search and placed Defendant in the back seat of his patrol car. Officer Muhlenbruch testified that Defendant was not under arrest at this point, but was handcuffed in the patrol car for officer safety.

Thereafter, Officer Muhlenbruch performed a search of the passenger's side of the vehicle where Defendant had been seated. He immediately located a loaded Ruger.357 revolver under the front passenger's seat. At that point, Officer Muhlenbruch returned to his patrol car, placed Defendant under arrest and read him Miranda [2] warnings. During the time Defendant was in the patrol car unattended, he made numerous cell phone calls that are audible on the patrol car's audio recorder. During these calls, Defendant made several potentially incriminating statements.


Defendant objects to certain factual findings in the Report and Recommendation, including that the video recording "shows a man matching the subject's description walking toward a nearby parked car'" and argues that "[i]t is not likely that [Officer] Muhlenbruch could have seen that Defendant matched the description of the suspect before he turned down the alley." Objections at 1 (quoting Report and Recommendation at 3). Defendant also notes that Judge Scoles failed to take two "very important facts" into account: (1) Defendant did not change his pace from the time Officer Muhlenbruch spotted him to the time he entered the ...

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