The Second Department, reversing defendant’s conviction and dismissing the indictment, determined the emergency doctrine did not justify entrance into the home where hand grenades, guns, forged gun permits, explosives, marijuana and forged currency were seized. The police had responded to a silent alarm and found defendant working on a car outside the home. After questioning the defendant, the defendant unlocked to door of the home (to show the police he had keys to the home). When the defendant attempted to go inside and shut the door, the police pushed their way in and saw two hand grenades and a gun:
In the evaluation of whether a warrantless entry was justified under the “emergency doctrine,” the evidence must establish as a threshold matter that the police had “an objectively reasonable basis for believing that a person within [the house] is in need of immediate aid” … . Under the Fourth Amendment, the officers’ subjective belief is irrelevant: “[a]n action is reasonable’ under the Fourth Amendment, regardless of the individual officer’s state of mind, as long as the circumstances, viewed objectively, justify [the] action'” … .
Here, the evidence at the suppression hearing fell short of the required threshold showing because it did not establish that the circumstances known to the police when they entered the house supported an objectively reasonable belief that entry was needed to render emergency assistance to an injured occupant or to protect an occupant from imminent injury … . The police were responding, in the early afternoon, to the type of notification that, in their experience, was usually a false alarm, not an emergency. Indeed, the People agree that the triggering of the alarm did not in itself permit the police to enter the house under the emergency doctrine. When the police arrived, they found the defendant, a middle-aged man, openly working on a van in the driveway. He had a key to the house. He explained his connection to the house, and he gave the police his phone so his sister could corroborate what he said. Moreover, there was no sign of a break-in. Neither of the police officers testified that he had any inkling that there were guns and other weaponry in the house. Their testimony was about their concern for the possible safety of anyone who might be in the house. Nothing, however, supported an objectively reasonable belief that “there was an emergency at hand requiring the immediate assistance of the police in order to protect life or property” … . Indeed, the facts known to the officers fell far short of the circumstances under which the emergency doctrine has been held applicable … . Simply put, this warrantless entry under the emergency doctrine was “unreasonable” (US Const Amend IV), because no facts then known supported a reasonable belief of an emergency. People v Ringel, 2016 NY Slip Op 08887, 2nd Dept 12-28-16
CRIMINAL LAW (EMERGENCY DOCTRINE DID NOT JUSTIFY ENTRY INTO HOME, EXPLOSIVES, DRUGS, GUNS, FORGED CURRENCY SUPPRESSED)/EVIDENCE (EMERGENCY DOCTRINE DID NOT JUSTIFY ENTRY INTO HOME, EXPLOSIVES, DRUGS, GUNS, FORGED CURRENCY SUPPRESSED)/SUPPRESS, MOTION TO (EMERGENCY DOCTRINE DID NOT JUSTIFY ENTRY INTO HOME, EXPLOSIVES, DRUGS, GUNS, FORGED CURRENCY SUPPRESSED)/SEARCH AND SIEZURE (EMERGENCY DOCTRINE DID NOT JUSTIFY ENTRY INTO HOME, EXPLOSIVES, DRUGS, GUNS, FORGED CURRENCY SUPPRESSED)/EMERGENCY DOCTRINE (CRIMINAL LAW, EMERGENCY DOCTRINE DID NOT JUSTIFY ENTRY INTO HOME, EXPLOSIVES, DRUGS, GUNS, FORGED CURRENCY SUPPRESSED)