The Second Department, over a dissent, determined the warrantless search of defendant’s backpack occurred close in time to the arrest and was justified by exigent circumstances. The dissent argued there was no evidence the backpack was within the grabbable area of the defendant and no evidence there were exigent circumstances. Defendant had fallen off his bicycle after he was stopped by the police, the complainant had identified the defendant at the scene, and there were five or six officers around the defendant at the time of the search of the backpack:
According to the testimony adduced at the suppression hearing, after being chased by the police, the defendant fell off his bicycle onto the street. When the complainant arrived one minute later and identified the defendant, the defendant was standing up and had not yet been handcuffed. Immediately after the complainant’s identification, the defendant was placed under arrest. Approximately two minutes after the defendant’s arrest, the police searched the subject backpack which was “on the street, at the location of the arrest.” These facts show that the arrest and search of the backpack were for all practical purposes conducted at the same time and in the same place … . Additionally, at the time of the arrest, the backpack, which was “on the street, at the location of the arrest,” could have been accessed by the defendant and had not yet been reduced to the exclusive control of the police.
Additionally, the circumstances support a reasonable belief that the search of the backpack was necessary to ensure the safety of the arresting officers and the public. The police responded to and arrested the defendant for a burglary, a violent crime. In addition, the defendant was not cooperative with the police. Indeed, the defendant was arrested at the conclusion of a police chase, following his flight from the police on a bicycle. Moreover, the setting of the defendant’s arrest and search of the backpack was a public street. These circumstances gave rise to objective and legitimate reasons for the search of the backpack … . People v Mabry, 2020 NY Slip Op 03540, Second Dept 6-24-20