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Court Discusses Reasonable Suspicion of Police


Two police officers in a patrol car received a report over the radio that a fight had just been witnessed and called in at 1411 Grand Concourse. A New York Criminal Lawyer said that the anonymous report stated that one of those who engaged in the fight had a knife. The only descriptions the witness gave about the two persons who were involved in the fight wore a red jacket and a dark jacket with a white stripe.

The two police officers drove to the address given in the report but they saw no one wearing the red jacket and dark jacket with a white stripe. When they got there a call for assistance was broadcast over the car radio. The two police officers responded. As they were heading toward the location of the other police officers who called for back-up, they saw three men. The officers got off their police car and headed for the three men. One of the men saw the two uniformed police officers and started running. The police officers gave chase and as they were chasing down the man, they saw him throw something. They finally caught up with the man and they also found what he threw away: it was a handgun. The police officers arrested him and charged him with criminal possession of a weapon in the third degree.

Even before the arraignment, the accused (the man who ran and threw away a handgun) moved to suppress the gun as evidence. He claims that the gun is not admissible as evidence as it was obtained by the police without probable cause. The police officers’ actions were not justified in chasing the man and in arresting him.

The trial court granted his motion to suppress. The People appeal the order granting the suppression of the gun. The only question before the Court is whether or not the suppression of the gun was proper. Stated another way, the question which the Court had to decide was whether or not the police officers were justified in chasing the man.

The Court affirmed the suppression of the gun.

The Court held that the report was of a fight; the fight involved a knife; and there was no description of those who were involved in the fight except to say that one wore a red jacket and the other a dark jacket. When the police saw the three men, they did not see any of them holding a knife. None of the three men wore a red or a dark jacket. The men were not doing anything suspicious on the street. The three men were not doing anything that could lead the police officers to believe that a crime was being committed. There was nothing that would justify the police officers’ action in approaching the three men.

The law is clear: no one may be stopped by the police unless there are circumstances which would give any ordinary prudent person a reasonable suspicion that the person the police is stopping has committed, is committed, or is about to commit a crime of criminal possession of a weapon.

When the man started running, there was no indication to the police that the man had just committed a crime, was committing a crime or was about to commit the crime of criminal use or criminal possession of a weapon. A Suffolk County Criminal Lawyer said there was no reason for the police to pursue him, to chase him at the time that he started running.

The police may have had reason to ask information of the man in furtherance of their investigation about the knife fight, but they certainly had no reason at the time that the man started running, to chase the man, to stop him and to detain him.

Have you been stopped by the police? Were you arrested and charged with a crime as a result of having been stopped by the police? You need a NYC Criminal Lawyer who will raise the question of the existence of probable cause, whether you have been charged with a gun crime, sex crimes or drug offense. A New York City Criminal Lawyer can ask that any evidence obtained from you be suppressed if there was no probable cause to stop you. At Stephen Bilkis and Associates, New York Criminal attorneys are willing and ready to represent you. Their NY Criminal attorneys can argue in your behalf to make sure that you ventilate all your issues. Call Stephen Bilkis and Associates today.

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