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Click here for the full text of this decision FACTS:On the morning of April 4, 2005, Lubbock Police Officer John Hayes was dispatched to a Walgreen’s parking lot to investigate a report of a person passed out in a vehicle in the store’s parking lot. Upon his arrival, Hayes observed that an ambulance had already arrived and that EMS personnel were speaking to a female sitting inside a vehicle. From Hayes’s observation, he noticed that Jacqueline V. Harper was slow in responding and appeared groggy. The EMS personnel determined that Harper was not in medical distress and left the scene. Hayes opined that, at that point, he was uncertain as to whether Harper was intoxicated or simply very tired. Being uncertain of Harper’s ability to safely operate a motor vehicle and drive herself home, Hayes decided to ask Harper to step out of her vehicle. As Harper stepped out of the vehicle, a small baggie containing a white, crystal-like substance fell from her lap. Hayes then arrested Harper for possession of a controlled substance. The substance was later verified to be methamphetamine. At a pretrial hearing, Harper challenged the admission of the methamphetamine by a motion to suppress contending that the controlled substance was obtained as a result of an illegal detention. The trial court overruled Harper’s motion to suppress. At trial, a jury found Harper guilty of possession of a controlled substance, a state jail felony, and the trial court assessed her punishment at one year in a state jail facility. Following her conviction, Harper appealed the trial court’s ruling on the motion to suppress the admission of the methamphetamine. HOLDING:Affirmed. A police officer’s interaction with a citizen, the court stated, can be classified as an encounter, detention or seizure. Encounters, the court stated, occur when police officers approach an individual in public to ask questions. Encounters do not require any justification whatsoever on the part of an officer. An investigative detention, the court stated, is a confrontation of a citizen by law enforcement officers wherein a citizen yields to a display of authority and is temporarily detained for purposes of an investigation. An investigative detention is permitted if it is supported by reasonable suspicion. Harper contends that the interaction was a detention and that Hayes did not have reasonable suspicion to justify the detention of Harper. The court concluded that Hayes’s interaction with Harper was an encounter and no further justification was needed for the officer’s actions. The court, however, went further and assumed arguendo that the encounter became an investigative detention when Hayes, suspecting that Harper was intoxicated, asked Harper to step out of the vehicle. Given that the record indicates that Hayes personally observed Harper in the Walgreen’s parking lot behind the wheel of a vehicle in a groggy or “out of it” state, the court concluded that Hayes had reasonable suspicion to suspect that Harper was or would soon be involved in criminal activity. Hence, the court found that even if the interaction had become an investigative detention, the trial court could have found that the officer had reasonable suspicion to justify the detention. Thus, the court held that the trial court did not err in overruling Harper’s motion to suppress. OPINION:Hancock, J.; Campbell and Hancock, J.J. CONCURRENCE:Pirtle, J. “I respectfully disagree with the majority’s conclusion that the Officer’s interaction with Appellant amounted to no more than an encounter. I am of the opinion that facts and circumstances of this case amounted to an investigative detention.”

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