Gow v. Colorado

Tommy Gow was walking in a residential neighborhood at abut 2:15 in the morning when he was stopped by police. The deputy pulled up, got out of his patrol car, and asked “what he was up to.” The man, Gow, responded that he had just come from a friend’s house where he had purchased an iPad. He asked the deputy if the deputy wanted to see his identification; and after checking to make sure that Gow had no outstanding warrants, the deputy told Gow that he was free to leave. The deputy decided to drive down the street and leave the area. As he was about to pass, Gow began waving his hands at the deputy and signaled for the deputy to roll down his window. The deputy stopped and rolled down the passenger side window. Gow asked the deputy to give him a ride to his friend’s house, which was four blocks away. The deputy replied, “Sure,” but said that he had to pat Gow down before allowing him to get into the car, to ensure that Gow did not have any weapons or anything illegal on him. According to the deputy, Gow responded, “Okay. I don’t have weapons.” At that point, the deputy got out of his patrol car, patted down Gow, and asked to look inside the box again, to ensure that no weapons were hidden underneath the iPad in the box. Gow said, “Sure,” and as he pulled out the iPad, the box fell to the ground and two small plastic baggies fell out. The deputy directed Gow to hand him the baggies, and Gow complied. The deputy then asked what was in them, and Gow responded that it was speed. The deputy arrested Gow and transported him to jail. The Colorado Supreme Court was asked to decide whether Gow’s federal and state constitutional rights were violated when he was subjected to a pat down and search of a box that he was carrying before accepting a courtesy ride with a sheriff’s deputy. The Court concluded the pat down and search of the box were constitutionally permissible because on the facts as found by the trial court, Gow initiated the encounter with the deputy by asking for a courtesy ride and then voluntarily and expressly consented to the pat down and search of the box as preconditions of getting into the deputy’s car. View "Gow v. Colorado" on Justia Law