In 2010, police discovered a liquor store had been robbed. The door was open and the owner, Gerald Simmons, was lying on the floor semi-conscious with gashes to his head and blood spatter throughout the store. The cash register was open and empty.
While at the store, Chief Tracy Vance, Friar Point P.D., got an anonymous call which stated Jerry Carr and another person were responsible for the robbery and they were driving a black box chevy. Investigator Neal Mitchell went to the hospital and spoke to Simmons who gave a description of the two people who robbed him.
Mitchell also got an anonymous call who stated the people responsible for this are BooJack, Bootchie, and Yount and they are headed to Clarksdale in a black faded box Chevy. Mitchell knew the real identities of Bootchie (Carr) and Yount (Tenner) but did not know Boojack was Brymon Hamp.
Deputy Dewayne Harvey spotted 1) a vehicle matching the BOLO and 2) Carr in the passenger seat of the car. He started to follow the car which sped away. The chase lasted ten minutes reaching speeds of 85 mph on a two lane road. The officers eventually stopped the car and Hemp, the driver, had $304 and a blood stain on his shoe. Hemp’s shoe had DNA of Simmons who died at the hospital.
Hemp was convicted of capital murder and sentenced to life. On appeal, he argued the stop was based solely on an anonymous tip and was illegal. MCOA affirmed.
The MSC stated in Cooper that before conducting an investigatory, or Terry stop, officers are required to have reasonable suspicion, grounded in specific and articulable facts, that a person they encounter was involved in a felony or some objective manifestation that the person stopped is, or is about to be, engaged in criminal activity. Reasonable suspicion can arise from an officer’s personal observations, a tip by a trusted police informant, or by anonymous tip. But information by anonymous tip must have some indication that it is reliable.
The U.S. Supreme Court has previously stated in Alabama v. White, 496 U.S. 325 (1990) that an anonymous tip alone seldom demonstrates the informant’s basis of knowledge or veracity. However, they went on to say that there are situations in which an anonymous tip suitably corroborated, exhibits sufficient indicia of reliability to provide reasonable suspicion to make the investigatory stop.
Here, the tips received stated that certain named individuals would be traveling in a specific car heading to a particular location. And that these individuals were involved in the robbery. Harvey was patrolling an area where he thought he might see the car in question.
When Harvey saw the car matching the description in the BOLO, he noticed Carr in the passenger seat. And Deputy Harvey testified that he was familiar with Carr. Considering the totality of the circumstances, we find that the tips demonstrated the tipsters’ reliability and basis of knowledge to support a finding of reasonable suspicion before Harvey stopped Hamp.
In Dies, MSC said that the Fourth Amendment does not require police who lack the information necessary for probable cause to simply shrug their shoulders and allow a crime or a criminal escape to occur. Rather, it allows for investigatory stops to encourage the police to pursue their reasonable suspicions.
We further find that Hamp’s flight gave rise to reasonable suspicion sufficient for Harvey to follow in pursuit. The U.S. Supreme Court in Illinois v. Wardlow, 528 U.S. 119 (2000) said that headlong flight—wherever it occurs—is the consummate act of evasion: It is not necessarily indicative of wrongdoing, but it is certainly suggestive of such. Furthermore, nervous, evasive behavior is a pertinent factor in determining reasonable suspicion.