In 2007, Officer Mark Gilmore of the Kosciusko Police Department was out on patrol when he saw a white Lincoln at a high rate of speed. Although he did not clock the driver’s speed, through pacing the vehicle by following it at a similar rate of speed, Gilmore determined that the car was speeding.
He called in the tag to dispatch and was told that the Lincoln’s tag was expired. Gilmore then activated his blue lights and siren but the driver of the Lincoln fled by increasing his speed up to 95 miles per hour and running through several red lights.
The driver of the Lincoln then slammed into a car occupied by William Wingo before driving towards Gilmore’s car on two different occasions. In swerving to avoid the Lincoln, Gilmore recognized the driver to be Marcus Cole, a former high school classmate. The Lincoln got away that night.
The next day, Cole reported his Lincoln as stolen. The car was recovered a few days later. Police photographs of the vehicle indicated that his tag was not in fact expired as relayed to Gilmore via police dispatch.
Cole was convicted of the felony crime of fleeing law enforcement in a motor vehicle under section 97-9-72 and sentenced to five years. On appeal, he argued Gilmore’s mistake regarding the tag puts the jury’s verdict in jeopardy. MCOA affirmed.
Even if Gilmore had mistakenly believed Cole’s car tag to be expired, this does not automatically render the reasonable suspicion in this case defective. In Loveless, we said a mistake does not necessarily render the probable cause defective, as long as probable cause was based on good faith and a reasonable basis.
Here, Gilmore testified that the driver of the Lincoln was speeding out of an apartment complex. He then called in the car tag, which dispatch notified him was expired. As a result, Gilmore had more than reasonable suspicion to pull over the driver of the Lincoln for both offenses. Additionally, Cole never argued at trial that Gilmore’s reasonable suspicion to pull him over was made without good faith or a reasonable basis. Therefore, Cole’s argument fails.