State v. Turnage, ___ N.C. App. ___, 817 S.E.2d 1 (May. 15, 2018)

temp. stay granted, ___ N.C. ___, 814 S.E.2d 459 (Jun. 20, 2018)

In this fleeing to elude, resisting an officer and child abuse case, the trial court erred by concluding that a seizure occurred when a detective activated his blue lights. After receiving complaints about drug activity at 155 John David Grady Road, officers conducted surveillance of the area. All officers were in plain clothes and in unmarked vehicles. As a detective was arriving in the area, he received a report that a burgundy van was leaving the premises. The detective followed the van and saw it, suddenly and without warning, stop in the middle of the road. The detective waited approximately 15 seconds and activated his blue lights. As the detective approached the driver’s side of the vehicle, he saw a male exit the passenger side, who he recognized from prior law enforcement encounters. The individual started walking towards the officer’s vehicle with his hands in his pockets. The detective told his colleague, who was in the vehicle, to get out. The male then ran back to the van yelling “Go, go, go” and the van sped away. During a mile and a half pursuit the van ran off the shoulder of the road, crossed the centerline and traveled in excess of 80 mph in a 55 mph zone. When officers eventually stopped the vehicle, two children were in the back of the van. The defendant was arrested for the charges noted above. The trial court found that a seizure occurred when the detective pulled behind the stopped the van and activated his blue lights and that no reasonable suspicion justified this activity. On appeal, the State argued that the trial court erred by concluding a seizure occurred when the detective activated his blue lights. The court agreed. Citing Hodari D., the court noted that a show of authority by law enforcement does not rise to the level of a seizure unless the suspect submits to that authority or is physically restrained. Here, for unknown reasons the driver and the defendant stopped the vehicle in the middle of the road before any show of authority from law enforcement. The detective’s later activation of his blue lights did not constitute a seizure because the defendant did not yield to the show of authority. The defendant was not seized until the vehicle was stopped during the chase. The criminal activity observed by the officer during the chase and his observation of the two minor children in the van justified the arrest for the offenses at issue.