United States v. Davis: Fourth Circuit Extends Gant to Containers Generally

The Fourth Circuit held in United States v. Davis, No. 20-4035, 2021 WL 1826255, ___ F.3d ___ (4th Cir. May 7, 2021) that officers unlawfully searched a suspect’s backpack, which he dropped before he lay on the ground on his stomach, where he remained as he was arrested and his arms were handcuffed behind his back. The case is significant for at least two reasons: (1) The Fourth Circuit extended Arizona v. Gant, 556 U.S. 332 (2009), to searches outside the automobile context; and (2) The court determined that a bag the suspect could have easily reached while unrestrained was not within his reach while he was prone and handcuffed.

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