United States District Court, D. Connecticut
RULING ON MOTIONS TO SUPPRESS AND COMPEL
R. Underhill United States District Judge.
Howell is charged with possession with intent to distribute
heroin and cocaine and unlawful possession of a firearm.
Compl., Doc. No. 1, at 1. The indictment charges Howell with
unlawful possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, in
violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1) & 924(a)(2)
(Count One); with possession with intent to distribute
cocaine, in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1) &
841(b)(1)(C) (Count Two); with possession with intent to
distribute heroin, in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1)
& 841(b)(1)(C) (Count Three); and with possession of a
firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime, in
violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924(c)(1)(A)(i) (Count Four).
Howell filed a motion to compel the government to produce
information regarding a Hartford Police Department
(“HPD”) confidential informant, Doc. No, 20, and
a motion to suppress evidence obtained during his arrest and
subsequent statement to the police, Doc. No. 21. For the
following reasons, both motions are denied.
factual summary that follows was provided by Alex Estrella in
a sworn affidavit in support of a federal arrest warrant for
Rufus Howell. Ex. A, Doc. No. 21-2, at 2. Alex Estrella is
Special Deputy United States Marshal and Task Force Officer
for the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Id.
2017, a confidential informant (“CI”) provided
information to HPD that Howell possessed a firearm and was
selling cocaine and crack cocaine in Hartford, Connecticut.
The CI described Howell's physical appearance and car,
and identified him from a Hartford police photograph.
21, 2017, HPD officers saw Howell's car parked at the
Sunset Café in Hartford. They saw the driver leave the
car and get into the passenger seat of a different vehicle.
Minutes later, Howell's car left the café and
drove to a gas station. The car had a temporary tag, which
did not match up to that vehicle. HPD officers observed
Howell get out of the car and then return to the driver's
seat before leaving the gas station. Howell then began to
drive away from the gas station. He drove above the speed
limit, stopped and impeded traffic in an intersection, and
made a right turn without signaling. Based on those traffic
violations, HPD officers intended to stop Howell, but he
parked the car before they could pull him over. The officers
drew their weapons and approached the car. Officer Estrella
reported that he smelled marijuana coming from the car. He
asked Howell for his registration and proof of insurance, and
Howell gave him permission to enter the vehicle. When
Estrella opened the car door, he saw a firearm. Because of
Howell's criminal history, he was then placed under
arrest for criminal possession of a firearm. HPD officers
then searched the rest of the car and found marijuana,
cocaine, and heroin.
Motion to Suppress Evidence
evidentiary hearing on a motion to suppress “ordinarily
is required if the moving papers are sufficiently definite,
specific, and nonconjectural to enable the court to conclude
that contested issues of fact going to the validity of the
search are in question.” United States v.
Pena, 961 F.2d 333, 339 (2d Cir. 1992) (citations and
quotations omitted). A defendant seeking a hearing on a
suppression motion bears the burden of showing the existence
of disputed issues of material fact. Id. at 338.
Furthermore, “[t]he defendant's burden is not
satisfied by conclusory, non-particularized allegations of
unlawful official behavior.” United States v.
Tracy, 758 F.Supp. 816, 820 (D. Conn. 1991).
argues that all evidence obtained by HPD - the witness
identification, the firearm, narcotics, cash, and statements
- were the “direct fruits” of “Fourth,
Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendment violations” and
therefore the “evidence must be suppressed.” Mem.
Supp. Def's Mot. to Supp. Evidence, Doc. No. 21-1, at 2.
government contends that “Howell has not sustained his
burden of demonstrating disputed issues of fact that would
justify an evidentiary hearing by an affidavit of someone
with personal knowledge of the underlying facts, and
therefore his request for an evidentiary hearing should be
denied, at least as it relates to Fourth Amendment
claims.” Gov's Opp. Mem., Doc. No. 73, at 1-2.
following reasons, I reject Howell's arguments.
Did the CI's identification of Howell violate due
who identified Howell to the police will not be called upon
to testify at trial. Gov's Opp. Mem., Doc. No. 73, at 7.
Therefore, the issue of whether “the Government should
be prohibited from referencing the identification at trial or
eliciting testimony that the CI identified Mr. Howell's