The Arizona Court of Appeals recently issued an opinion in a defendant’s appeal of his conviction and sentence for two cases, one of which involved an Arizona weapons offense. That case arose when police officers stopped the defendant when they noticed him riding his bicycle against traffic on a two-lane road. During the stop, police noticed a combat-style knife on his hip. When asked, the defendant admitted he was a felon, and the detectives arrested him. The court consolidated both of the defendant’s cases, and the defendant appealed, arguing that the court erred by denying his motion to suppress.
The defendant argues that police abused their discretion and improperly stopped him. He further contends that he was not violating a statute because he was not riding his bike on the roadway. Under the Fourth Amendment, law enforcement cannot engage in unreasonable searches and seizures. Moreover, the exclusionary rule prohibits the state from introducing evidence seized in violation of the defendant’s Fourth Amendment rights. Generally, investigative stops are permitted if the stop is substantiated by “reasonable suspicion that criminal activity is afoot.”
In this case, the officers testified that they drove by the defendant when they noticed him riding on the gravel, talking on a cell phone, and steering the bike with one hand. They stopped him after they noticed oncoming traffic swerving to avoid the defendant. The court found that the detectives possessed the requisite reasonable suspicion to stop the defendant. The court reasoned that the police believed that the defendant was obstructing the highway and creating a public hazard.