State v. Travis R. Braly, 2021AP2086-CR, District 4, 6/9/22 (one-judge decision; ineligible for publication); case activity (including briefs)

Braly challenges the stop of the car he was driving, arguing it was clearly erroneous for the circuit court to find that the officer who stopped him had reasonable suspicion to believe he had not stopped prior to entering an intersection as required by § 346.46(1) and (2)(c). The circuit court rejects the claim based on the officer’s testimony, the squad camera footage, and the circuit court’s findings.

The officer testified the car Braley was driving passed a stop sign and came into an intersection the officer was passing through, leading the officer to “jerk” his car to swerve and avoid a collision. (¶¶2-4). Braley argues the officer’s testimony isn’t credible, based on his inconsistent written probable cause statement, the absence from the squad car’s camera footage of a noticeable swerve, and the officer’s admission the car behind him didn’t swerve, but the court of appeals rejects these arguments and holds the circuit court’s assessment of the officer’s credibility wasn’t clearly erroneous.  (¶¶15-18).

As to the ultimate question of the legality of the stop, the court of appeals notes that the squad camera footage didn’t show precisely where Braly’s car stopped and didn’t show a sharp, jerky evasive maneuver, but it did show some evasive reaction by the officer. Further, the footage didn’t conclusively show Braly failed to stop before entering the intersection. But the evidence as a whole supports the conclusion that the officer had reasonable suspicion to believe Braly may have failed to stop before entering the intersection, and that’s enough to justify the stop. (¶¶5, 714, 19).