Two uniformed police officers were checking out an illegally parked car near the corner of 39th Street and 9th Avenue at 3am on June 15, 2005. One of them happened to look up and saw a man running. He was coming from the vicinity of 8th Avenue. When the police officers asked him why he was running, the man wouldn’t say. They stopped him and frisked him but found that he was not in possession of a weapon. When the police officers asked him what was going on, he said he had just been robbed. At that time, a New York Criminal Lawyer said the two police officers heard gunshots from the same area where the man had just come from. They reported over the police radio the gunshots fired.
At around the same time, two other police officers in an unmarked police car were in the vicinity of 8th Avenue when they also heard the gunshots fired. They then saw the white SUV they noticed on the street a while back. The SUV fired its engine and started speeding away. The two police officers followed the speeding SUV. They were tailing it when the SUV came to an abrupt halt because they came across the two other uniformed police officers.
The two uniformed police officers were standing on the street with their guns drawn when they heard the screeching of the tires of SUV and the unmarked police car that appeared to be chasing the SUV. A New York Criminal Lawyer said both the SUV and the unmarked police car were coming from the general direction of the area where the gunshots were fired.
When the SUV came to a stop, the two uniformed police officers approached the car and asked the driver and the person in the passenger side to come out of the car. They reluctantly came out of the car. They also asked the man seated in the back seat to exit the vehicle. The two uniformed police officers made these three men lie down on the ground and handcuffed them.
By this time, the two police officers in the unmarked car had gotten down from their vehicle and looked inside the SUV. The interior lights of the SUV were open and from the passenger door which was wide open, one of the police officers in the unmarked car saw a semi-automatic handgun with a fully loaded magazine next to it. It was in plain view in the middle of the rear bench seat.
The police officer from the unmarked car who saw the gun yelled out to the other police officers that the three suspects were in possession of a weapon. He then closed the rear passenger door of the SUV but did not take the gun. Later when their back-up arrived, the police officer in the unmarked car took the gun and held it up to show all that the gun had already been secured.
The three men were arrested and were taken to the precinct. A New York Drug Possession Lawyer said one of the uniformed police officers read them their Miranda rights and they responded that they understood their rights as these were read to them. They signed the statement sheet next to each right as each right was read to them. During the custodial investigation that followed all the three men admitted that they were in the car where the gun was found.
The three men were charged with criminal possession of a weapon.
On arraignment, all the three men pleaded not guilty and they all moved for the suppression of their statement and the gun. They claim that the police officers who stopped their car on the street had no right to stop them as there was no probable cause to stop them. Therefore, according to the three men, the gun and their statements should be excluded and suppressed as fruits from a poisonous tree, the yield of an illegal stop.
The only question before the Court is whether or not the police had probable cause to stop the defendants’ SUV. For it the police officers had no probable cause for the stop then all that occurred after the stop and all the evidence obtained after the stop must all be suppressed and excluded as evidence illegally obtained.
The Supreme Court ruled to deny the motion of the defendants to suppress the evidence. The Court found that the police officers who stopped the SUV had probable cause to stop the SUV.
Probable cause is a reasonable suspicion that a crime was being committed. A reasonable suspicion exists when there is knowledge of facts that lead an ordinarily reasonable and judicious man to believe that a crime is being committed.
Here, the two uniformed police officers themselves heard shots fired. Prior to this, they had met a man who said he had been robbed at or around the same area where the gunshots came from. They then saw an SUV coming from the same area. This SUV was speeding down the road toward them. They saw that an unmarked police car appeared to be pursuing the SUV. These circumstances led the uniformed police officers to believe that a crime involving possession of a weapon was occurring at that time. This reasonable belief constituted probable cause to stop the SUV.
It follows that since the stop was reasonable, then all the evidence seized during the search after the vehicle was stopped was legal. The gun seized from the SUV is admissible. The arrest was legal. The custodial investigation following the arrest was legal and the statements made by the defendants during the custodial investigation are admissible.
At Stephen Bilkis and Associates, NY Gun Crimes Lawyers can assist you moving for a probable cause hearing. The attorneys at Stephen Bilkis and Associates can help you argue to suppress and exclude any illegally obtained evidence and statements that may be used to prove your guilt in court, whether you are facing a weapons charge, sex crimes or theft charge. Call Stephen Bilkis and Associates today. Speak with any of their New York Gun Crimes Lawyers and assert all possible defenses in your favor. Their New York City Gun Crimes Attorneys are available at any of their offices in the New York area.