WAYNE ANTONIO BLAND, JR.
COMMONWEALTH OF VIRGINIA
the Circuit Court of the City of Richmond Gregory L. Rupe,
Dalton, Senior Assistant Public Defender, for appellant.
Benjamin H. Katz, Assistant Attorney General (Mark R.
Herring, Attorney General, on brief), for appellee.
Present: Judges Humphreys, Chafin and Senior Judge Clements
Argued at Richmond, Virginia
M. Chafin Judge
Antonio Bland, Jr. ("appellant"), was indicted by a
grand jury in the City of Richmond for the possession of a
firearm after having been convicted of a felony pursuant to
Code § 18.2-308.2. Prior to trial, appellant filed a
motion to suppress the evidence obtained during his encounter
with law enforcement. The trial court denied the motion.
Following a bench trial, appellant was convicted and
sentenced to five years of imprisonment. Appellant now
appeals to this Court, contending that the trial court erred
in denying his motion to suppress.
appellate review, we consider the evidence presented at trial
in the light most favorable to the Commonwealth, the
prevailing party below, and "accord [it] the benefit of
all inferences fairly deducible from the evidence."
Riner v. Commonwealth, 268 Va. 296, 303, 601 S.E.2d
555, 558 (2004). On June 20, 2014, at 6:08 p.m., the
Department of Emergency Communications ("DEC") of
the Richmond Police Department received a report of a crime.
The caller identified "an armed party near the
intersection of Coalter and Redd Street" in Richmond.
The caller provided a description of the individual as an
African-American male "with a tan hat, orange and white
striped shirt, and tan cargo shorts." The caller stated
that the subject was brandishing a gun in that location. The
DEC dispatcher relayed the location and description of the
subject to Richmond police officers Stephen Butler and Ronald
May, informing them that the subject had been seen waving a
two minutes later, the officers arrived at the location.
While they did not see anyone at the intersection of Coalter
and Redd Streets, they saw an individual who matched the
description walking on the left-hand side of Redd Street,
near its intersection with Coalter. This individual was
subsequently identified as appellant. Appellant's
appearance was consistent with the description the caller
provided – an African-American male wearing tan cargo
shorts, an orange and white striped shirt, and a tan hat.
officers stopped their car and walked approximately thirty
feet to appellant's location. Appellant "looked in
[their] direction" then "patted his front right
pocket, his right rear pocket, and then pulled [his] shirt
down . . . on [the right] side." Officer Butler
understood this action as being consistent with the type of
movements in which one conducting a "weapons check"
would engage. Butler characterized a "weapons
check" as the efforts of an armed person "to make
sure [their weapon] is still there."
officers approached appellant, Officer May informed him of
the call that police had received and the fact that appellant
matched the provided description. May expressed his intention
to "pat down" appellant, and as he began to do so,
appellant "knocked [his] hand away and told [the officer
he] could not do that." As May sought to pat appellant
down a second time, appellant fled. Appellant was apprehended
after a short run of roughly twenty feet. After a brief
struggle, during which appellant resisted being handcuffed,
the police took him into custody. The police recovered a .40
caliber Smith and Wesson handgun during a subsequent search
of the right back pocket of appellant's pants. At the
suppression hearing, Butler confirmed this pocket was the
same one he had witnessed appellant attempting to conceal
with his shirt.
trial court admitted the recording of the informant's
call to the DEC over appellant's objection at the
suppression hearing. The caller related that she was calling
from "the field at Coalter and Accommodation
Streets" in the City of Richmond. The caller noted that
she was watching an individual "walking on Redd Street
in an orange and white striped shirt, with tan cargo shorts
on." She explained that she had first provided the
description and the individual's present location because
"she did not want him to get out of her eyesight."
The caller then related that she witnessed this person
"brandish a gun in front of a female" near a
"field full of children, " and then "enter
into a house at 1947 Accommodation Street." She stated
that the person was now on Redd Street, walking with the gun
in his hand. She was then asked to give a description, which
she once again provided – an African-American male,
wearing an orange and white striped shirt, tan cargo shorts,
and a tan hat. When asked if the gun was still in this
individual's hand, the caller noted that the gun
"was in his pocket, " stating that he had pulled
the gun from his pocket when he brandished it in front of the
woman and children.
support of his motion to suppress the firearm, appellant
argued to the trial court that the tip provided to police was
not sufficiently corroborated to render it reliable and
capable of supporting the requisite reasonable suspicion to
justify his seizure. In response, the Commonwealth, relying
upon Navarette v. California, 134 S.Ct. 1683 (2014),
stated that the caller's knowledge served to increase the
tip's reliability. The Commonwealth argued that the
caller's knowledge concerning appellant's possession
of a firearm was corroborated by the activity witnessed by
Officers Butler and May, wherein appellant patted his right
front and rear pockets and pulled down the right side of his
shirt as if to conceal his pockets. The Commonwealth
indicated that appellant's actions in resisting both the
pat down and handcuffing afforded sufficient probable cause
to place appellant under arrest, independently authorizing a
search of his person.
denying the suppression motion, the trial court made a
factual finding, based upon having listened to the call, that
the caller was an eyewitness to the events. The trial court
cited both appellant's actions in patting his pockets as
well as his resistance to the police as factors which, ...