Searching over 5,500,000 cases.

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

United States v. Navarette

United States District Court, D. North Dakota

April 23, 2019

United States of America, Plaintiff,
Willie Israel Navarette, Defendants.



         Before the Court is the Defendant's motion to suppress filed on August 8, 2018. See Doc. No. 30. The Government filed a response in opposition to the motion on August 21, 2018. See Doc. No. 35. A hearing on the motion was held on March 25, 2019. Both parties filed post-hearing briefs on April 9, 2019. See Doc. Nos. 61 and 63. For the reasons set forth below, the motion is denied.

         I. BACKGROUND

         In the early morning hours of May 30, 2018, Williston Police Sergeant Kristiina Ravaska was on patrol in Williston, North Dakota. While on patrol, she observed that a vehicle behind her had the driver's side headlight out, a violation of North Dakota law. At approximately 1:57 a.m., she conducted a traffic stop on the vehicle, a blue 1989 Dodge Durango, for the equipment violation. The dash camera in Sgt. Ravaska's patrol car was not operational. The Williston Police Department does not use body cameras.

         The driver was the sole occupant of the vehicle and upon Sgt. Ravaska's request, could not produce a driver's license, proof of insurance, or registration for the vehicle. The driver identified himself as Willie Navarette. At approximately 2:04 a.m., Sgt. Ravaska called in the name, but police dispatch could not locate a driving record. Dispatch advised that Navarette was on federal supervision. Police Officer Jason Barten arrived on scene to assist while Sgt. Ravaska was running the records check on Navarette. No. dash camera video of the incident exists from Officer Barten's vehicle.

         Sgt. Ravaska returned to the vehicle. Navarette was still unable to produce his driver's license, but was checking his pockets as if looking for it. Sgt. Ravaska asked if he wanted to step out of the vehicle to check his pockets for his driver's license, and Navarette did so. Navarette testified Sgt. Ravaska ordered him out of the vehicle. When the driver's door opened, Sgt. Ravaska observed in plain view, a loaded magazine for a handgun in the door panel. See Doc. Nos. 60-2 and 60-3. Navarette denied any knowledge of the ammunition magazine and upon asking if possessing such an item was a violation of his supervision, he stated he did not know and attempted to get back into the vehicle. At approximately 2:18 a.m., Sgt. Ravaska informed Navarette that he was not under arrest, but would be detained and asked him to place his hands behind his back. Navarette started pulling away and tensing up. With the assistance of Officer Barten, Navarette was handcuffed. Sgt. Ravaska advised Navarette of his Miranda rights and received confirmation he understood them. Navarette consented to a pat down and Sgt. Ravaska located an empty holster for a handgun on his belt. Sgt. Ravaska asked him where he placed the weapon and Navarette stated he wished to remain silent.

         While looking into the vehicle from the outside, Officer Barten advised Sgt. Ravaska he could see a handgun located between the front driver's seat and the center console. See Doc. No. 60-5. Sgt. Ravaska was also able to observe the firearm from outside the vehicle. Navarette was placed in Officer Barten's patrol vehicle. Sgt. Ravaska then entered the vehicle and seized the handgun -- a .40-caliber Glock with a seated magazine containing 13 rounds and a single chambered round. See Doc. No. 60-6. Continuing the search of the vehicle, she found two rifles, an assortment of ammunition, and mail addressed to Navarette, all in the passenger compartment. See Doc. Nos. 60-7, 60-8, 60-9, 60-10, 60-11, and 60-12. Upon completion of the search of the vehicle, Navarette was arrested at approximately 2:58 a.m.

         Navarette, who was visiting Williston and staying in a hotel at the time of the incident, testified he had purchased the vehicle for $800 two days prior to the traffic stop. He could not recall the name of the person from whom he purchased the vehicle although he believed the seller now lives in Virginia. The seller did not provide Navarette a title for the vehicle. Navarette testified he did not yet have proof of insurance or registration for the vehicle because he had just recently purchased it. His Texas driver's license had been misplaced. When he purchased the vehicle both headlights were working. In addition, prior to being stopped on May 30, 2018, Navarette had stopped at two convenience stores, left the vehicle running while he went inside, and did not observe that either headlight was out when he returned to the vehicle.

         The parties dispute whether Navarette was taken to the front of the vehicle and shown that the headlight was out. Navarette testified he did not ask to see the headlight. Sgt. Ravaska testified Navarette asked to see the headlight and she took him to the front of the vehicle and showed him the headlight that was out after she patted him down. Although several photos of the vehicle were taken, none showed the front of the vehicle.

         Sgt. Ravaska testified that pursuant to department practice and policy, since Navarette's vehicle was legally parked, it was not towed or impounded. Navarette testified that he contacted his mother about the vehicle a couple days after his arrest, but it was never located.

         Navarette was initially charged in state court. The state court charges were dismissed when the federal indictment charging possession of a firearm and ammunition by a convicted felon was returned.



         Navarette contends the stop of the vehicle was unjustified as the headlights on his vehicle were working properly and there is no evidence to support Sgt. Ravaska's testimony that the driver's side headlight was out. The Government contends Sgt. Ravaska's testimony was credible and thus there was a sufficient basis for a traffic stop. As the Government puts it, ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.