United States v. Walden, 146 F.3d 487, 490 (7th Cir. 1998). Whether reasonable
suspicion exists depends on a consideration of the totality of the circumstances
known to the officer at that time including his experiences and common sense.
Jackson, 300 F.3d at 745-46.
As an initial matter, Wyatt’s argument that Officer Modrusic’s subjective
intent vitiated the reasonableness of the search warrants little discussion.
Modrusic had probable cause to initiate a traffic stop because Wyatt had
undisputedly committed a traffic violation by speeding, and so Modrusic’s subjective
intent is irrelevant for purposes of Wyatt’s Fourth Amendment argument. See, e.g.,
Whren v. United States, 517 U.S. 806, 813 (1996); United States v. Moore, 375 F.3d
580, 583 n.1 (7th Cir. 2004); United States v. Robinson, 314 F.3d 905, 907 (7th Cir.
2003); Valance v. Wisel, 110 F.3d 1269, 1275 (7th Cir. 1997).
The real issue is whether Modrusic’s request to search the RV after he
completed the traffic stop by issuing a warning was a further detention requiring
reasonable suspicion or a consensual encounter. See Ohio v. Robinette, 519 U.S.
33, 35 (1996) (recognizing possibility of consensual encounter following completion
of traffic stop in holding that officer does not have to inform driver that he is free to
go); Moore, 375 F.3d at 584 (consensual encounters between individual and officer
do not trigger Fourth Amendment scrutiny). Wyatt provides little reason other
than the length of the encounter to disturb the district court’s conclusion that the
post-stop encounter was consensual. Once Modrusic returned Wyatt’s paperwork
with a warning and told him he was “free to go,” his request to search the RV
without more did not amount to a new seizure. See United States v. Rivera, 906
F.2d 319, 323 (7th Cir. 1990) (holding that officer’s request to search was part of
consensual encounter after officer had issued written warning, returned
defendant’s documents and declared him free to go); cf. United States v. Finke, 85
F.3d 1275, 1281 (7th Cir. 1996) (until officer told defendants that he was calling
canine unit, court might have upheld encounter as consensual where all documents
were returned, defendants were told they were free to go, and officer asked if
defendants “had a minute” before requesting permission to search).
In any event, even if Officer Modrusic’s questioning amounted to a seizure,
he had reasonable suspicion to detain Wyatt further in order to investigate whether
Wyatt was transporting narcotics. Modrusic listed the following factors as
contributing to his reasonable suspicion: (1) Wyatt’s nervousness, (2) the unusual
height of the bed visible through the RV window, (3) Wyatt’s exchange of a rental
car with a rental RV for his return trip from Phoenix, (4) his driving alone in an RV
back home to a colder climate, and (5) his prior criminal history. In the face of this
list, Wyatt’s attempts to explain away his shaking by citing the cold weather and
characterizing the other grounds as “specious,” do little to deflect the specter of
reasonable suspicion. This is because Wyatt never confronts the most suspicious