State v. Weaver, 231 N.C. App. 473 (Dec. 17, 2013)

In granting the defendant’s motion to suppress in a DWI case, the trial court erred by concluding that a licensed security officer was a state actor when he stopped the defendant’s vehicle. Determining whether a private citizen is a state actor requires consideration of the totality of the circumstances, with special consideration of the citizen's motivation for the search or seizure; the degree of governmental involvement, such as advice, encouragement, and knowledge about the nature of the citizen’s activities; and the legality of the conduct encouraged by the police. Importantly, the court noted, once a private search or seizure has been completed, later involvement of government agents does not transform the original intrusion into a governmental search. In the alternative, the court held that even if the security officer was a state actor, reasonable suspicion existed for the stop. Separately, the court found that a number of the trial court’s factual findings were not supported by the record.

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