Judge: Trooper patdown justified in Woodside stop

DOVER — Following a series of threatening clues a Delaware State Police trooper was justified in handcuffing and patting down a 26-year-old Magnolia man during a traffic stop earlier this year, according to a ruling this week.

Thus, drug evidence seized from Bremonte R. Palmer on Jan. 2 in Woodside was lawfully discovered, Kent County Superior Court Judge Noel Primos determined in a seven-page order released Monday. Mr. Palmer was indicted on several drug-related charges on April 2 and scheduled for trial this month, according to court documents.

The defendant unsuccessfully sought to suppress what police described as drug contraband that was “almost exactly the same shape and size of the log of heroin earlier found in [a co-defendant’s] pocket,” according to the judge.

The Court found that Mr. Palmer’s reported aggressive behavior including profanity and “sizing up” the trooper and his weapon “in a way that made [the trooper] believe that [defendant] was preparing to assault him” was reason to take him into custody and conduct a pat down.

Police were initially conducting surveillance in a high crime area when a red Dodge Charger vehicle was reportedly seen stopping on a road’s shoulder with its hazard lights on, according to the order. The vehicle’s driver exited and went to a nearby home, tested the doorknob and finding it locked, returned to the car and drove away, the judge noted.

A traffic stop resulted as the vehicle entered the roadway without signaling a turn and with hazard lights still on, according to the opinion.

The Charger’s driver could not provide insurance or registration documents, police said, and another passenger had no identification of any kind. Both the driver and Mr. Palmer appeared visibly and very nervous, police said.

A trooper said the driver “had a long round object in his pants pocket … considered to be of a shape and size consistent with either a bundle or heroin or firearm magazine” and that Mr. Palmer ” … had a wallet on his lap that contained a large quantity of United States currency.”

Police said the driver was patted down and drug contraband was found in his pants pocket. The driver was arrested and placed inside a police vehicle, according to documents.

Mr. Palmer did not challenge the validity of the original traffic stop, which the judge said “was not unlawfully prolonged.” Video review showed Mr. Palmer was arrested 13 minutes into the stop, the order stated.

Troopers were also justified in removing Mr. Palmer from the vehicle due to being outnumbered by the occupants, the Court reasoned. Also, the driver was suspected of a shooting, Judge Primos pointed out.

Deputy Attorney General Sean Motoyoshi argued for the state and attorney Andre’ M. Beauregard represented Mr. Palmer.

Staff writer Craig Anderson can be reached at 741-8296 or canderson@newszap.com.


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