Submitted: February 9, 2017
from United States District Court for the Western District of
Missouri - Kansas City
SMITH,  GRUENDER and BENTON, Circuit Judges.
BENTON, Circuit Judge.
detectives entered a work area of Freaks Tattoo Shop without
a warrant to talk to Joseph B. Lewis about a person of
interest. They saw a gun on a shelf and seized it. Lewis then
volunteered that he was a felon. He was charged with being a
felon in possession of a firearm. Lewis moved to suppress the
discovery and seizure of the firearm. The district court
denied the motion. Having jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. §
1291, this court affirms in part, reverses in part, and
7, 2015, Detective Loran Freeman of the Independence Police
Department went undercover to Freaks Tattoo Shop in
Independence, Missouri. He was looking for a person of
interest in an unrelated case. When he entered the shop,
Lewis, an employee there, was sitting at a reception desk in
a common area inside the front door. Detective Freeman spent
five to ten minutes looking at tattoo art. Not seeing the
person of interest, he left.
fifteen minutes later, Detective Freeman returned to Freaks
Tattoo with Detective Aaron Gietzen. They dressed in plain
clothes, displaying their neck chains and badges. They did
not have a warrant. No one was at the reception desk, but one
customer was sitting in the common area. The detectives rang
a bell on the desk, trying to get someone to answer. No one
answered. The customer told the detectives he was waiting
while Lewis drew him a tattoo in the back of the shop.
the reception desk was an open doorway to a work area with
individual stations for tattooing customers. There were no
signs telling people to stay out of the work area, but a
Freaks Tattoo employee testified that the reception desk was
meant to be a visual barrier keeping people from walking into
the work area uninvited. Detective Freeman knocked on the
doorframe for two to three minutes, identifying himself and
Detective Gietzen and asking if anyone was there.
no answer, Detective Gietzen entered the work area and
knocked on a closed door to a back room. Lewis answered and
joined both detectives in the work area. The detectives
identified themselves and told Lewis they wanted to talk
about the person of interest. Detective Freeman asked if it
was okay to talk there. Lewis said yes.
Freeman asked Lewis if the person of interest worked at
Freaks Tattoo. Detective Gietzen then noticed a handgun in a
nylon holster on a shelf on the side of the room. He grabbed
the handgun, removed it from the holster, and checked to see
if it was loaded. Lewis then told the detectives he was a
felon and did not need any hassles. The detectives did not
know Lewis was a felon until he told them. Detective Freeman
told Lewis they would keep the handgun. The detectives left
with the handgun.
Freeman and another officer returned to Freaks Tattoo the
next day to talk to Lewis about the firearm. They asked him
if there was somewhere private they could speak. Lewis led
them through the work area, through a door, to the back room.
Lewis told them he got the gun from a customer a year or two
Government charged Lewis with being a felon in possession of
a firearm in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 922(g)(1)
and 924(a)(2). Lewis moved to suppress the evidence obtained
by search of the shop and the seizure of the handgun. After a
hearing, a magistrate judge recommended denying the motion.
The district court adopted the magistrate judge's
findings of fact and conclusions of law, denying the ...