Dale Bryant and Terry Bryant were charged with violating the Georgia Controlled Substances Act by possessing cocaine with the intent to distribute. They moved to suppress evidence seized during a search of Dale Bryant's apartment. The trial court granted the motion, and the State appeals.
Officer Michelle Scott obtained a search warrant for Dale Bryant's apartment based on a tip from an informant. In her affidavit in support of the search warrant, she stated that "[o]ver the past couple of weeks, affiant has received numerous telephone calls . . . from a confidential and reliable informant. The confidential and reliable informant told affiant that Dale Bryant was dealing cocaine from his residence and that Dale Bryant had in his possession a large quantity of cocaine and a large quantity of marijuana within the past 72 hours." The affiant went on to state that the informant told affiant Dale Bryant's address and described his vehicle and tag number and that the information regarding his address and vehicle was independently corroborated. The affiant also stated that the informant described Dale Bryant's physical appearance and told her where Dale Bryant banked and this information was also independently confirmed. Lastly, the affiant stated that her office had received another complaint naming Dale Bryant as a drug dealer but did not identify the source of the complaint. The trial court granted the motion to suppress, ruling that the search warrant lacked probable cause because the affidavit did not set forth sufficient facts from which the magistrate could independently determine the reliability of the information and the informant. In its sole enumeration of error, the State contends that this ruling was erroneous.
Of course, even if an officer cannot provide information regarding the veracity of an informant or the basis of his knowledge, a tip may be proved reliable enough to provide probable cause if portions of the tip are sufficiently corroborated. See Gates, supra. In order for the corroboration to be meaningful enough to show reliability, however, the information corroborated must include "a range of details relating not just to easily obtained facts and conditions existing at the time of the tip, but to future actions of third parties ordinarily not easily predicted." Id. at 245. In short, the information corroborated will generally need to be a prediction of future behavior, as in Gates, or something similar that is, inside information not available to the general public. See Alabama v. White, 496 U. S. 325 (110 SC 2412, 110 LE2d 301) (1990); Weaver v. State, 208 Ga. App. 105
, 107 (430 SE2d 60
) (1993). See also State v. Stephens, 252 Ga. 181
, 184 (311 SE2d 823
) (1984). ("Prudence counsels that Gates be considered as the outer limit of probable cause.") In this case, the officer "corroborated" descriptions of Dale Bryant, where he lived, his car, and his bank. As all of this information would be available to the general public, the corroboration in this case is not sufficiently meaningful to show reliability. See Teague, supra.
Accordingly, we are left with only the conclusory statements of the affiant officer regarding the reliability of the informant and his information that Dale Bryant had a large quantity of drugs in his apartment. Considering all the circumstances, we must conclude that the phone tip was not sufficient to establish a "fair probability" that drugs would be found in the apartment and that the trial court properly granted appellees' motion to suppress.
Jack J. Menendez, for appellees.