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Cal. v. Hodari D.

Supreme Court of the United States

January 14, 1991, Argued ; April 23, 1991, Decided

No. 89-1632

Opinion

 [*622]   [***695]   [**1549]  Late one evening in April 1988, Officers Brian McColgin and Jerry Pertoso were on patrol in a high-crime area of Oakland, California. They were dressed in street clothes but wearing jackets with "Police" embossed on both front and back. Their unmarked car proceeded west on Foothill Boulevard, and turned south onto 63rd Avenue. As they rounded the corner, they saw four or five youths huddled around a small red car parked at the curb. When the youths  [*623]  saw the officers' car approaching they apparently panicked, and took flight. The respondent here, Hodari D., and one companion ran west through an alley; the others fled south. The red car also headed south, at a high rate of speed.

The officers were suspicious and gave chase. McColgin remained in the car and continued south on 63rd Avenue; Pertoso left the car, ran back north along 63rd, then west on Foothill Boulevard, and turned south on 62nd Avenue. Hodari, meanwhile,  [****5]  emerged from the alley onto 62nd and ran north. Looking behind as he ran, he did not turn and see Pertoso until the officer was almost upon him, whereupon he tossed away what appeared to be a small rock. A moment later, Pertoso tackled Hodari, handcuffed him, and radioed for assistance. Hodari was found to be carrying $ 130 in cash and a pager; and the rock he had discarded was found to be crack cocaine.

In the juvenile proceeding brought against him, Hodari moved to suppress the evidence relating to the cocaine. The court denied the motion without opinion.  The California Court of Appeal reversed, holding that Hodari had been "seized" when he saw Officer Pertoso running towards him, that this seizure was unreasonable under the Fourth Amendment, and that the evidence of cocaine had to be suppressed as the fruit of that illegal seizure. The California Supreme Court denied the State's application for review. We granted certiorari. 498 U.S. 807 (1990).

 As this case comes to us, the only issue presented is whether, at the time he dropped the drugs, Hodari had been "seized" within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment. 2 If  [*624]  so, respondent argues,  [****6]  the drugs  [***696]  were the fruit of that seizure and the evidence concerning them was properly excluded.  If not, the drugs were abandoned by Hodari and lawfully recovered by the police, and the evidence should have been admitted. (In addition, of course, Pertoso's seeing the rock of cocaine, at least if he recognized it as such, would provide reasonable suspicion for the unquestioned seizure that occurred when he tackled Hodari. Cf. Rios v. United States, 364 U.S. 253 (1960).)

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499 U.S. 621 *; 111 S. Ct. 1547 **; 113 L. Ed. 2d 690 ***; 1991 U.S. LEXIS 2397 ****; 59 U.S.L.W. 4335; 91 Cal. Daily Op. Service 2893; 91 Daily Journal DAR 4665

CALIFORNIA v. HODARI D.

Prior History:  [****1]  CERTIORARI TO THE COURT OF APPEAL OF CALIFORNIA, FIRST APPELLATE DISTRICT.

Disposition: Reversed and remanded.

CORE TERMS

seizure, arrest, seized, common-law, touching, restrained, cocaine, chase, encounter, rock, abandoned, tackled, conveyed, message, fruit, flee, arrestee

Constitutional Law, Fundamental Rights, Search & Seizure, Scope of Protection, Criminal Law & Procedure, Seizure of Persons, General Overview