The First Department reversed defendant’s drug-sale conviction as against the weight of the evidence. The police saw a woman approach defendant and the woman had a $10 bag of crack cocaine in her mouth when the police stopped her. The defendant had $10 in his pocket but no drugs on him. No exchange between the two was observed:
Two police officers testified that they observed defendant in a high drug trafficking area. They both saw defendant approach a man and talk to him. The man gave defendant money and there was an “exchange,” but the officers did not see what was exchanged. Shortly thereafter, one of the officers witnessed a woman approach defendant. The officer saw the woman speak to defendant and then touch his hand, but the officer did not see any money or drugs exchanged. Defendant and the woman separated, and the officer approached the woman. The officer identified herself, said that she just saw what happened, and heard the woman chewing on something. She asked the woman to spit out the object, which turned out to be a small bag containing $10 worth of crack cocaine. The officer never saw the woman put the bag in her mouth or even bring her hand to her mouth. The police then arrested the woman and defendant. Defendant did not have any drugs on him, but had $10 in his sweatshirt pocket and other denominations of cash in his pants pocket.
In the exercise of our factual review power, we conclude that the People did not prove beyond any reasonable doubt that defendant sold cocaine to the woman, which was the only crime charged. The officer who witnessed the transaction acknowledged she did not observe an exchange of anything, including money, drugs or unidentified objects, between defendant and the woman. In addition, the People’s theory that the woman put the bag in her mouth after purchasing it from defendant was contradicted by the officer’s testimony that she never saw the woman put anything into her mouth, or even put her hand to her mouth. Furthermore, the People’s theory that defendant sold two $10 bags, one to the man and the other to the woman, was inconsistent with the cash found on defendant. People v Correa, 2019 NY Slip Op 07017, First Dept 10-1-19