Tillery and a passenger were stopped by police because Tillery “pulled [his] car into the parking spot right in front of Cousin’s Supermarket without using a turn signal.”
During the traffic stop, Tillery was asked to get out of the car. He ultimately complied and the officer took him to the back of the car. The passenger subsequently testified at the suppression hearing that the officer never asked Tillery if he had a weapon in the car. The officer never testified having observed furtive movements, smelling an odor of marijuana or alcohol, or having observed any contraband or bulges in the clothes of Tillery or his passenger.
The vehicle was searched and a gun was recovered from the center console of the car.
Tillery filed a Motion to Suppress Evidence, challenging the basis for the vehicle stop.
The Superior Court first determined that, because the “violation” that was the basis of the stop required no additional investigation, the officers were required to have probable cause to initiate the stop.
The Superior Court explained that the terms of the statute at issue require that a person shall not “turn a vehicle or move from one traffic lane to another or enter the traffic stream from a parked position” without giving a signal. 75 Pa.C.S.A. § 3334(a). More importantly, the Court further explained that “[t]he statute does not address ‘mov[ing] out of the flow of traffic.’”
Neither party cited any binding authority holding that a driver must use a turn signal before pulling into a parking spot.
Thus, the Superior Court concluded that Tillery was not required under Section 3334(a) to use his turn signal, nor did he violate the Vehicle Code by pulling into a parking spot in front of a supermarket. Therefore, there was no probable cause to justify the stop of his vehicle.
Commonwealth v. Tillery, No. 1219 EDA 2019 (Pa. Superior. March 26, 2021).