In 2001, an armed man robbed Jennifer Simmons, a bank teller at the National Bank of Commerce in Lowndes County. Witnesses described the perpetrator of the crime as a “heavy-set black male wearing a baseball cap.” He was described as driving an older model brown car, accompanied by another black male.
Deputy Greg Porter received information regarding the armed robbery over his police radio and proceeded towards the bank. En route to the bank, Porter spotted a vehicle matching the description of the suspected vehicle heading in the opposite direction. Porter only saw one black male driving the car; however, as he approached the vehicle, another black male sat up suddenly from the back seat of the car and ducked down quickly when he spotted Porter.
The car swerved off the road to circumnavigate another vehicle, and sped down the road. Porter reported the vehicle and the evasive action over his radio and proceeded to pursue the car. The vehicle was apprehended by the sheriff and another deputy who had blocked off the road in response to Porter’s broadcast. Carlos Jack and the other passenger were arrested, and a duffel bag filled with cash was obtained from the car.
Carlos Jack was convicted of armed robbery and sentenced to 25 years. On appeal, he argued the stop was improper. MCOA affirmed.
In Haddox v State, 636 So. 2d 1229 (Miss. 1994), the MSC said for an officer to have legal authority for an investigative stop, he need not have probable cause to make an arrest. He need only have a reasonable suspicion that the accused is involved in a felony.
Porter knew that an armed robbery had just occurred, that the suspects were fleeing in an older model brown car, and that the suspects were heavy set black males. Porter clearly had information sufficient to constitute reasonable suspicion that the men in the car had been involved in the bank robbery; therefore, Porter clearly had reasonable suspicion sufficient to make an investigative stop.
Once Jack refused to yield to the lights and siren and fled, Porter, who already possessed a reasonable suspicion, also obtained probable cause. In Mitchell, MSC found that fleeing from law enforcement is a factor to be considered in making an arrest. Mitchell was based on Sibron, below.
The U.S. Supreme Court in Sibron v. New York, 392 U.S. 40 (1968), said that deliberately furtive actions and flight at the approach of law officers are strong indicia of mens rea, and when coupled with specific knowledge on the part of the officer relating the suspect to the evidence of crime, they are proper factors to be considered in the decision to make an arrest.
The description of the suspect’s car, the description of the suspects, and Jack’s flight combined to constitute probable cause for his arrest; therefore, the arrest was valid and the trial judge did not err in refusing to suppress the evidence obtained therefrom. This assignment of error is without merit.