California Court of Appeals, Second District, Third Division
from a judgment of the Superior Court of Los Angeles County
No. BA459662 Robert J. Perry, Judge. Affirmed.
Law Group and Christopher Darden for Defendant and Appellant.
Becerra, Attorney General, Gerald A. Engler, Chief Assistant
Attorney General, Lance E. Winters, Assistant Attorney
General, Stephanie C. Brenan and Lindsay Boyd, Deputy
Attorneys General, for Plaintiff and Respondent.
convicted defendant and appellant Sheila Cooper of driving
under the influence of alcohol causing injury within 10 years
of a prior driving under the influence offense. On appeal,
Cooper contends the trial court erred in denying her motion
to suppress statements she made to police during field
sobriety tests administered at the police station. Cooper
claims a violation of her Fifth Amendment rights under
Miranda v. Arizona (1966) 384 U.S. 436
(Miranda). We find no error and affirm.
AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
Cooper slams into the victims' car
after 8:30 p.m. one January night in 2017, Yessenia Rosales
was driving her Kia Forte on Manchester Boulevard in Los
Angeles. In the passenger seat was her fiancé, Edmundo
Mendez. Both Rosales and Mendez were wearing seat belts.
Rosales was stopped at a red light. Just as the light turned
green, Rosales and Mendez saw in their rearview mirror the
lights of a car coming up behind them, closer and closer. The
lights in the rearview mirror were getting brighter and more
intense. The oncoming car hit the Kia very, very hard.
Rosales's car went flying forward at least 50 feet and
ended up on the other side of the intersection.
called 911. The operator told him just to get the information
from the other driver. Mendez walked over to the car that hit
him, a Chevrolet Camaro. Cooper was sitting in the
driver's seat. Mendez spoke to her. At first she was
“unresponsive” but after a few seconds she seemed
to “c[o]me to.” Cooper told Mendez he had no
authority to ask for her identification because he was not a
police officer. Cooper's speech was slurred and Mendez
smelled alcohol on her breath.
truck happened to drive by and stopped to help. Cooper got
out of her car, approached the tow truck driver, and said,
“I need to get out of here. Can you get me out of
here?” Mendez noticed Cooper was “wobbling,
” “swaying side to side” “like she
couldn't walk straight.” Mendez called 911 again.
Journagin also was driving down Manchester that night. While
sitting at the red light, Journagin saw the lights of a car
coming fast. He estimated the car was traveling at least 65
or 70 miles per hour; the speed limit there is 35. The car
“just smack[ed]” into another car,
“hit[ting] it hard” and knocking it “a good
70, 80 feet” across the intersection. Journagin pulled
over and got out to make sure everyone was alright,
“[b]ecause the crash... was like a hard hit.”
saw Cooper, who was “kind of stumbling” and kind
of disoriented. Journagin asked Cooper if she was okay and
told her “[t]he people [were] going to need [her] I.D.
to exchange the information.” Cooper started
“acting crazy.” As Mendez walked up, Cooper
“turned around” and “start[ed] saying like,
what the fuck? You motherfuckers work for Trump or something
like that.” Journagin backed up; he and Mendez walked
to the curb and Journagin told Mendez he'd have to wait
for the police because “[y]ou can't take her I.D.
Angeles Police Department Officers Samual Colwart and Nathan
Grate arrived at the scene about 10 minutes after the
collision. Cooper was standing on the sidewalk. Colwart asked
Cooper for her driver's license, registration, and proof
of insurance. Colwart noticed Cooper's eyes were red and
watery, she smelled like alcohol, and she was chewing gum.
Her speech was slurred. Cooper walked back to her car. She
was stumbling and unable to walk straight.
got into her car and “kind of just sat there.”
She was upset and crying. Eventually Cooper went through her
wallet and handed her license to Colwart. She got out of her
car. Colwart again asked Cooper for her registration and
proof of insurance. Cooper “became very upset”
and “threw her wallet on the hood of the car.”
She was “walking around” and
asked Cooper if she had been drinking; she said no. Colwart
asked Cooper if she had “any physical defects”;
she said no. Colwart asked Cooper where she had been going;
she refused to answer. In response to Colwart's
questions, Cooper told him what she had eaten and when she
had last slept. Colwart asked Cooper if she was under a
doctor's care and she responded, “Ain't your
saw that, while Cooper was talking with the officers,
“[s]he was throwing her hands up” “then
down in a slumping over motion, ” “walking back
and forth, ” and “walking away from [the]
Officers take Cooper to the police station and ask her to
perform field sobriety tests
decided to take Cooper to the 77th Street police station to
administer the field sobriety tests (FSTs). Colwart later
explained: “[S]he was just so upset at the scene, she
wasn't focused on any-the questions I was asking. She
just was really upset. She wasn't... with the
investigation at the time.... It would be unsafe.”
Cooper was “pacing around” and the roadway
“was still an active collision scene.” Female
officers arrived. They had to “grab [Cooper] and bring
her to the [police] car.” The station was one and
one-half to two miles from the scene.
the station, Colwart began the FSTs with Cooper in the long
hallway next to the watch commander's room. Cooper was
not handcuffed. Colwart did not see any “physical
defects, ” physical problems, or medical issues that
might prevent Cooper from performing the FSTs. According to
Colwart, there are “preset instructions” for the
FSTs-officers give the tests in a particular order. Colwart
typically explains each test in turn, asks the suspect if she
understands the test, and then asks the suspect to perform
first test was the “eye examination, ” looking
for horizontal gaze nystagmus. Cooper's performance was
“consistent with ...