The Second Department, affirming the denial of defendant’s suppression motion, explained the analytical criteria for a pat-down search of defendant’s person after a vehicle stop:
“In light of the heightened dangers faced by investigating police officers during traffic stops, a police officer may, as a precautionary measure and without particularized suspicion, direct the occupants of a lawfully stopped vehicle to step out of the car” … . However, a police officer’s questions regarding whether an individual has a weapon is a common-law inquiry which must be supported by founded suspicion … . In addition, a pat-down search of a suspect’s outer clothing is reasonable and constitutionally permissible when an officer observes facts and circumstances that give rise to a reasonable suspicion that a person is armed or poses a threat to his or her safety … . Among the factors relevant to determining whether a pat-down search is justified are “the substance and reliability of the report that brought the officers to the scene, the nature of the crime that the police are investigating, the suspect’s behavior and the shape, size, and location of any bulges in the suspect’s clothing” … .
Under the circumstances of this case, including, among other things, the time of night, the fact that the livery cab in which the defendant was a passenger was speeding, the neighborhood, the officer’s observations of the defendant make what he interpreted as a furtive movement indicating that he was hiding something, the defendant’s refusal to answer questions or look at the officer in comparison to the other passenger’s animated responses, and the abnormal bulge in an unusual spot near the defendant’s groin, the officer was justified in inquiring about the bulge and performing the minimally intrusive measure of touching the bulge to verify that it was, in fact, a gun and not, as the defendant stated, cash … . People v Graves, 2016 NY Slip Op 05763, 2nd Dept 8-10-16
CRIMINAL LAW (PAT-DOWN SEARCH AFTER VEHICLE STOP OKAY, CRITERIA EXPLAINED)/SEARCHES AND SEIZURES (PAT-DOWN SEARCH AFTER VEHICLE STOP OKAY, CRITERIA EXPLAINED)/VEHICLE STOPS (CRIMINAL LAW, (PAT-DOWN SEARCH AFTER VEHICLE STOP OKAY, CRITERIA EXPLAINED)