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University of Baltimore Law Forum

Abstract

The Court of Appeals of Maryland held that, under the totality of the circumstances, a law enforcement officer did not have reasonable suspicion to conduct a Terry frisk of a passenger during a traffic stop. Sellman v. State, 449 Md. 526, 544, 144 A.3d 771, 782 (2016). The court ruled that a police department policy authorizing officers to conduct Terry frisks based on consent to search a vehicle violates the Fourth Amendment. Id. at 557, 144 A.3d at 790. The court further held that the crime of theft from vehicles does not imply the possession of a deadly weapon. Id. at 562, 144 A.3d at 793.

On November 12, 2013, at approximately 2 a.m., Corporal William Daughters ("Daughters") and Officer Dan Kramer ("Kramer") were on patrol at an apartment complex. The location was considered a high crime area due to prior thefts from vehicles, drug arrests, and illegal possession of handguns. Daughters observed an individual, later identified as Donzel Sellman ("Sellman"), emerge from a dark area of an apartment building where there was no entrance. Shortly after, Sellman got into the rear passenger seat of a vehicle with three other occupants. The officers conducted surveillance and eventually stopped the vehicle after noticing a broken taillight and tag light. Daughters later testified that he observed Sellman sitting rigidly and looking straight ahead to avoid eye contact. Daughters asked the driver if Sellman lived in the apartment complex, to which she replied in the affirmative. Sellman later gave a conflicting response, claiming that he did not. Daughters issued a written warning to the driver and asked to search

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