State v. McKnight, 239 N.C. App. 108 (Jan. 20, 2015)

In this drug trafficking case, the trial court did not commit plain error by finding that officers had reasonable suspicion to stop the defendant’s vehicle. The court began by rejecting the State’s argument that the defendant’s evasive action while being followed by the police provided reasonable suspicion for the stop. The court reasoned that there was no evidence showing that the defendant was aware of the police presence when he engaged in the allegedly evasive action (backing into a driveway and then driving away without exiting his vehicle). The court noted that for a suspect’s action to be evasive, there must be a nexus between the defendant’s action and the police presence; this nexus was absent here. Nevertheless, the court found that other evidence supported a finding that reasonable suspicion existed. Immediately before the stop and while preparing to execute a search warrant for drug trafficking at the home of the defendant’s friend, Travion Stokes, the defendant pulled up to Stokes’ house, accepted 2 large boxes from Stokes, put them in his car, and drove away. The court noted that the warrant to search Stokes’ home allowed officers to search any containers in the home that might contain marijuana, including the boxes in question.