In reversing the defendant’s robbery conviction as against the weight of the evidence, the Second Department determined the fact that defendant’s hand was in his pocket did not support the “threat to use immediate physical force” element of the offense:
This Court has held that where an unarmed person “positions his hand in his pocket in a manner that is intended to convey to his victim the impression that he is holding a firearm,” that qualifies as displaying what appears to be a gun … . Since the defendant here admitted to knowingly entering the warehouse with the intent to commit a crime therein, the acquittal of burglary in the second degree could only be based upon the People’s failure to prove that the defendant displayed what appeared to be a firearm, or, in other words, upon the People’s failure to prove that the defendant positioned his hand in his pocket in a manner intended to convey to the complainants the impression that he was holding a gun.
The trial court’s factual finding that the defendant did not display what appeared to be a firearm is supported by the record. The trial court, however, failed to give that finding the proper weight with respect to the crime of robbery in the third degree … . If the People failed to prove that the defendant displayed what appeared to be a firearm by holding his hand in his pocket, then there was no basis on which the trial court could conclude that the defendant’s conduct of holding his hand in his pocket constituted a threat to use immediate physical force upon the complainants in order to overcome their resistance. Accordingly, the verdict of guilt with respect to robbery in the third degree was against the weight of the evidence, and we vacate that conviction and the sentence imposed thereon… . People v Johnson, 2013 NY Slip Op 06709, 2nd Dept 10-16-13