The Court of Appeals determined the warrantless search of appellant's backpack when appellant was handcuffed and seated in the police car was justified by exigent circumstances. Prior to searching the backpack, the officer had determined the presence of a weapon by feel. It is not clear from the facts described how “exigent circumstances”—stemming from a legitimate concern for officer safety—arose after the appellant was handcuffed:
When the touching revealed the shape of a gun in the bag, appellant was arrested. Appellant became agitated and upset, and resisted being handcuffed, such that two officers were required to handcuff him. Notably, the officers knew that on the occasion of appellant's prior arrest he had started to walk away while being handcuffed. By this time, a crowd had gathered, yelling at the officers, who placed appellant in their police vehicle. Once in the vehicle, one of the officers opened and searched the backpack. He found what was later confirmed to be an air pistol. Significantly, the unmarked police vehicle had no partition, and the officer who searched the bag was seated next to appellant on the back seat.
In these circumstances, there is record support for the conclusion that the officers reasonably believed that appellant might gain possession of a weapon, so that exigent circumstances — a legitimate concern about the safety of the arresting officers — justified the warrantless search of appellant's backpack. Matter of Kenneth S., 2016 NY Slip Op 02123, CtApp 3-24-16
CRIMINAL LAW (EXIGENT CIRCUMSTANCES, A CONCERN FOR OFFICER SAFETY, JUSTIFIED WARRANTLESS SEARCH OF BACKPACK)/SEARCHES AND SEIZURES (EXIGENT CIRCUMSTANCES, A CONCERN FOR OFFICER SAFETY, JUSTIFIED WARRANTLESS SEARCH OF BACKPACK)