Just sitting in your car at night, in a crime area, doesn’t give the police the right to detain you!
In the case of State v. Donte Quintell McBride, 2021AP311-CR, 12/20/22, District 1 (not recommended for publication) a Wisconsin court has ruled that police officers do not have reasonable suspicion to seize the passenger of a vehicle simply because the passenger and the driver were sitting in the vehicle with the lights off in an alley in a high crime area at night, and the passenger moved when the officer shined a spotlight on them. The court held that an individual’s presence in a high crime area by itself does not create reasonable suspicion of criminal activity, and that moving in response to having a spotlight shined on you is not suspicious behavior.
The court also found that the officer’s testimony that the vehicle was improperly parked in the middle of the alley, obstructing traffic, was contradicted by video evidence showing that the vehicle was actually parked on the side of the alley and did not obstruct traffic. The court reversed the lower court’s denial of the defendant’s motion to suppress the evidence found during the seizure, which included pills found in a pill bottle and in the defendant’s pocket. A dissent argued that the officers had reasonable suspicion for the seizure based on the improper parking of the vehicle.