Sacramento Police Officer Shippen was looking for a specific person with the same “basic characteristics” of the defendant. Shippen saw a male driving a motorcycle, meeting the basic identifiers but wearing distinctive clothing, a helmet and displaying tattoos. Shippen followed the motorcycle, which ultimately turned into a pursuit with traffic violations and lights and sirens. The motorcyclist finally escaped when it went over some railroad tracks where Shippen could not follow in his patrol car. Air support took over and located the abandoned motorcycle. Shippen described the motorcyclist for handler officer. Handler’s PSD Crash started barking, an indication that he was “smelling a bad guy,” and handler announced the dog’s imminent deployment. Crash “took off” toward the river, tracking ground and air scents associated with stress and perspiration. Crash jumped into the river, swam approximately 10 yards, returned to shore, located a shirt at the waterline, and tore at it violently to indicate that it was the suspect’s shirt.
After handler retrieved the shirt from Crash’s mouth, the duo continued to follow the scent. Crash led handler along a small bike trail through a wooded area about 100 yards from the shoreline. Then handler heard Crash growling and a male voice screaming or yelling. Crash had located defendant, who was in a sleeping bag that covered most of his lower body. The K-9PSD pursuit lasted 40 minutes. Shippen identified the defendant as the motorcyclist he had been pursuing, testifying that he recognized defendant’s build, short hair, neck tattoo, and distinctive camouflage shoes by brand, pattern, and color. The defendant was wet; his shirt and pants were “saturated.” The sleeping bag defendant was found in was also “completely wet.”
The court held that there was substantial evidence support the conviction; in particular, Shippen’s testimony that defendant was the same person he saw evading him on the motorcycle, combined with the evidence of Crash’s tracking and identification of defendant based on stress and perspiration scents, the fact that defendant and his sleeping bag were soaking wet which is consistent with the inference defendant ran through the river to escape and defendant’s bogus statements to police and his debunked defense at trial.
(Note: standard of proof at trial beyond a reasonable doubt. Standard of proof on appeal is sufficiency of the evidence. Big difference.)