an officer may stop and detain a person to resolve an ambiguous situation without having sufficient knowledge to justify an arrest


Officer Wayne Drexler received a call from a confidential informant (C.I.), known to Drexler and who had proven reliable in the past, that three black males were selling drugs at the intersection of Kingsway Drive and Brooksdale Drive in Picayune, Mississippi. Several arrests had been made in the past on information received from this informant. Drexler and Officer Larry Cagle went to the scene in an unmarked vehicle to investigate.

The two officers drove to the area where the reported drug activity was occurring. After confirming that there were three black males at the intersection in question, the officers called Officer Shelton Farmer to meet them at a nearby parking lot to confer with them. They met with Farmer and explained to him the information they received.

Driving a police marked vehicle, Farmer went to the area described by Drexler and Cagle. Farmer saw the men approach two different vehicles that arrived at the intersection, and after a brief encounter the vehicles drove away. According to the officers, this area was known for incidents of illegal drug activity. Farmer, in his clearly marked police vehicle drove up to the men, and they immediately began to walk away. Farmer, in uniform, exited his vehicle and asked them to stop.

Two of the men did as Farmer asked, returned to his car and placed their hands on the patrol car. Gregory Linson did not respond to Farmer’s request. Instead, he walked toward the nearby apartment building. According to Farmer, Linson appeared very nervous as he paced near the building.

Officers Drexler and Cagle arrived on the scene. Drexler tended to the two men at the police car while Farmer asked Linson a second time to approach the car. According to Farmer, Linson began to walk around his right side. Farmer put his hand up in front of Linson and requested that he put his hands on the car. Farmer testified that Linson pushed him backwards and began to run.

Farmer grabbed him, wrestled him to the ground, and then received assistance from the other two officers. As Farmer handcuffed Linson, Cagle made a cursory check of him and discovered and removed a .22 caliber revolver from Linson’s pants pocket. Cagle indicated that the search occurred after Linson was in handcuffs.

Linson was convicted of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and sentenced to three years. On appeal, he argued that his arrest for disorderly conduct was unlawful because there were no indications that he had or was about to breach the peace, an essential element of the crime of disorderly conduct. MCOA affirmed.


MSC said in McCray v. State, 486 So. 2d 1247 (Miss. 1986), that law enforcement officers may make an investigative stop, which is a detention of a person short of an arrest so long as they have a reasonable suspicion, grounded in specific and articulable facts, that a person they encounter was involved in or is wanted in connection with a completed felony or some objective manifestation that the person stopped is, or is about to be engaged in criminal activity.

MSC also said in Estes v State, 533 So. 2d 437 (Miss. 1988), that an officer may stop and detain a person to resolve an ambiguous situation without having sufficient knowledge to justify an arrest.

As to Linson’s stop, the person providing the tip was known. Though the record does not reveal the person’s name, the authorities knew who it was. A face-to-face informant must, as a general matter, be thought more reliable than an anonymous telephone tipster, for the former runs the greater risk that he may be held accountable if his information proves false. Though the informant in our case did not apparently appear in person, knowledge of the identity of the informant serves the same purpose.

The officers had received a tip from a known informant who had been reliable in the past, that three black males were at a certain corner selling drugs. That location was said by the officers to be part of a four block area that was frequently used to sell drugs. They went to the corner and saw the three men twice approach automobiles. The officers did not see drugs in the possession of the three men, but the officers testified that what they saw was consistent with drug activity.

The officers still did not have probable cause to believe that drug sales were occurring, but they knew enough to investigate. Farmer sought to speak to the three to determine what they were doing at the intersection. Two complied with his directions. Linson, however, refused his request and attempted to walk past Farmer.

Farmer put his hand up in front of Linson and again asked him to stop. According to Farmer, “at that point he pushed me backwards and began to take off to run…I grabbed ahold of him and was wrestling him to the ground when Cagle and Drexler both came up.” Linson hit the officer in the shoulder and tried to push him away.

The officers were acting within the scope of their authority in detaining Linson. MSC said in Boches v State, 506 So. 2d 254 (Miss. 1990), that if a person refuses to submit to a valid investigatory stop, officers have the right to use reasonable means to force compliance.

Here, the investigatory stop and frisk were justified based on the information received from a reliable informant and from what the officers witnessed. When Linson refused, pushed the officer away, and attempted to run, Farmer could seek to restrain him. Even without commission of a misdemeanor of refusing to obey lawful commands, Linson could have been frisked for weapons as part of being forced to submit to the investigatory stop.

After Farmer was able to restrain Linson, Cagle made a cursory pat down. It uncovered the .22 caliber revolver in Linson’s pants pocket.

In White, MSC said that once an arrest has occurred, a search incident to it may occur. Such a search is based on the principle that the person detained may have a weapon on his person or within reach, or that the accused may try to destroy nearby evidence.