People v. Esparza (Cal. Ct. App., Aug. 28, 2023, No. D080703) 2023 WL 6224964, as modified (Sept. 26, 2023)
Summary: Esparza was pulled over for a Vehicle Code violation, a detective who specializes in gang enforcement recognized him and two of his passengers as gang members. The detective thought one of the passengers was likely to be armed and told the other officers they needed to search him. After the search of the passenger disclosed a loaded gun. The officers then searched Esparza and found another loaded weapon.
Esparza contests the constitutional validity of his detention and search, claiming (1) the officers lacked reasonable suspicion that he was armed and dangerous when they conducted his patdown, and (2) his detention was unreasonably prolonged because it lasted longer than necessary for the officers to issue him a citation for the Vehicle Code violation. The Court of Appeal noted that the detention lasted only seven minutes, during which the officers acted consistent with reasonable concerns for officer safety. The totality of the circumstances known to the initial investigating officer justified those concerns. The Court affirmed.