Suppression Motion Should Have Been Granted—Defendant Arrested Before Police Had Probable Cause
The Fourth Department reversed the suppression court and granted defendant’s motion to suppress and dismissed the indictment. The Fourth Department concluded that the evidence of which the police were aware at the time defendant was handcuffed and placed in the back of a police care did not amount to probable cause. A baggie containing drugs and a dagger were not found until after the illegal arrest:
…[T]he police were justified in approaching the vehicle outside the bar because they had a “founded suspicion that criminal activity [was] afoot,” rendering the police encounter lawful at its inception … . We further conclude that the police were justified in pursuing the vehicle inasmuch as “defendant’s flight in response to an approach by the police, combined with other specific circumstances indicating that [he] may be engaged in criminal activity, [gave] rise to reasonable suspicion, the necessary predicate for police pursuit” … . Such reasonable suspicion also gave the police the authority to stop the vehicle … .
…[W]e conclude that an arrest occurred here when defendant was handcuffed and placed in the back of a police car. Under such circumstances, “a reasonable man innocent of any crime, would have thought” that he was under arrest … . “[V]arious factors, when combined with the street exchange of a ‘telltale sign’ of narcotics, may give rise to probable cause that a narcotics offense has occurred. Those factors relevant to assessing probable cause include the exchange of currency; whether the particular community has a high incidence of drug trafficking; the police officer’s experience and training in drug investigations; and any ‘additional evidence of furtive or evasive behavior on the part of the participants’ ” … . Here, the police observed neither a “ ‘telltale sign’ ” of narcotics, such as a glassine baggie, nor the exchange of currency … . Thus, despite the observations of the police outside the bar, their experience in drug investigations, and defendant’s flight, we conclude that the police did not have probable cause to arrest defendant before the dagger and first baggie were observed. People v Lee, 1005, 4th Dept 10-4-13
STREET STOPS, SUPPRESSION