A Franklin man’s arrest in Bowling Green on drug charges was legal, a federal judge ruled.
In an opinion filed Tuesday, U.S. Magistrate Judge Brent Brennenstuhl said police had probable cause to arrest Adrian Nolan, 40, on Dec. 31, 2019, and serve him with an arrest warrant.
Nolan is charged in U.S. District Court with two counts of possession of methamphetamine with the intent to distribute, two counts of possession of cocaine base with the intent to distribute, three counts of possession of a firearm in furtherance of drug trafficking, possession of an unregistered firearm, distribution of methamphetamine and possession of a firearm by a prohibited person.
Two of the firearm counts and two of the drug counts stem from the 2019 arrest, while the remaining charges were brought after a search warrant was executed at Nolan’s Franklin residence in 2017.
Nolan’s attorney, Dennie Hardin, had filed a motion to suppress the arrest, arguing that police did not adequately identify Nolan before stopping his vehicle in Bowling Green and acted on “nothing more than a hunch and an uncorroborated tip” that Nolan would be where he ended up being arrested.
Federal prosecutors argued that law enforcement had reasonable suspicion that Nolan, who was under investigation, would be in Bowling Green to meet with the mother of their child at a store parking lot, and that police observed Nolan fail to use a turn signal at a stop sign during the meeting, giving police probable cause to make a traffic stop and verify Nolan’s identity.
Brennenstuhl wrote that the traffic stop was legal because Kentucky State Police Trooper Brent Davis observed the failure to signal, giving him probable cause to make the stop.
At a hearing in February, Davis testified he was contacted to come to the parking lot to make the arrest after Deputy Brad Harper, a Simpson County Sheriff’s Office deputy assigned as an agent to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, had conducted surveillance of the parking lot from an unmarked vehicle.
“My whole mindset was to get a good probable cause traffic stop,” Davis testified at the February hearing in federal court.
Nolan pleaded guilty to the traffic violations in Warren District Court, which Brennenstuhl found prevents him from disputing whether there was probable cause for an arrest.
“Whether Trooper Davis may have been on the lookout for an excuse to stop the vehicle is irrelevant,” Brennenstuhl wrote. “Law enforcement officers may conduct a stop based upon the pretext of an actually observed traffic law violation, even though their subjective intention is to use the stop for purposes of investigation.”
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