Emergency Exception to Warrant Requirement Misapplied
The police officers chased defendant when defendant ran and an officer thought he saw a handle of a gun on defendant’s person. The officers entered defendant’s house and found drugs. The Second Department determined the drugs should have been suppressed because there was no emergency justifying the warrantless entry and search of the house:
Under the emergency exception, the police may make a warrantless entry into a protected area if (1) they have reasonable grounds to believe that there was an emergency at hand and an immediate need for their assistance for the protection of life or property, (2) the search was not primarily motivated by an intent to arrest and seize evidence, and (3) there was some reasonable basis, approximating probable cause, to associate the emergency with the area or place to be searched … . … There was no evidence of any circumstances which would have provided a reasonable basis for the patrol officers to believe that there was an emergency at hand and an immediate need for police assistance for the protection of life or property inside the house … .
Furthermore, even where exigent circumstances justify the warrantless entry into a protected area, the scope and duration of the warrantless search must be limited by and reasonably related to the exigencies of the situation … . Here, the subject drugs were not discovered by the ESU officers during their protective sweep. Rather, they were discovered by the patrol officers, who conducted an evidentiary search after the ESU officers had secured the house and removed the defendant, who was the only occupant. At the time of the patrol officers’ search, any purported exigency had abated, the police were in complete control of the house, and there was no danger that the defendant, who was in custody, would dispose of or destroy the weapon. Accordingly, the police were required to obtain a warrant prior to conducting the evidentiary search … . Moreover, contrary to the suppression court’s findings, it is of no avail that the contraband was found in plain view, since the patrol officers’ warrantless entry was illegal … . People v Scott, 2015 NY Slip Op 08445, 2nd Dept 11-18-15