Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals - Published Opinions

Thursday, June 11, 2020

Yarbrough: Reasonable Suspicion Existed to Conduct Protective Sweep of a Home

In United States v. Yarbrough, No. 18-10624 (June 11, 2020) (Branch, Marcus, Ungaro), the Court affirmed the denial of a motion to suppress.

The Court concluded that concluded that, based on the totality of the circumstances, officers had reasonable suspicion to believe that a dangerous person or people could be inside a home, justifying a protective sweep.  Although the officers executed an arrest warrant in the driveway, the Court emphasized that: there were anonymous tips that the house was heavily trafficked and a possible source of drug activity; there were two cars at the residence and four people outside the home;  the defendant’s wife fled inside to the bathroom when the police called her name; and the sweep was immediate, took only a minute, and was limited in scope.

Judge Ungaro dissented, opining that there was no reasonable suspicion to believe that anyone was inside the home.  She emphasized that nothing during the arrest corroborated the anonymous tips, no drugs or weapons were found during pat downs of the men outside, and there was no indication that anyone else was inside.  The sweep, she concluded, was based on speculation rather than any articulable facts.