The Fourth Department, reversing Supreme Court’s denial of suppression and dismissing the indictment, determined the 911 call was from an anonymous informant, even though the caller provided his first name. Because the informant was anonymous, the information about a black man in an orange jacket carrying a handgun gave rise only to the common-law right to inquire. One of the officer’s approached with his gun drawn and the defendant ran, discarding the jacket and handgun:
As a preliminary matter, we conclude that the 911 caller, who identified himself only by a first name, was anonymous inasmuch as he provided no other information from which the police could identify or locate him , and he was not present at the scene when the police arrived Indeed, it is not clear from the record that the name by which the caller identified himself was the caller’s real first name. Under the circumstances, we analyze the propriety of the police conduct under the law applicable to tips from anonymous informants. * * *
… [T]he anonymous tip was simply that of a man with a gun at a particular location. It follows that the officer’s gunpoint stop of defendant was unlawful, as was the officers’ subsequent pursuit of defendant after he took flight. People v Johnson, 2023 NY Slip Op 04493, Fourth Dept 9-8-23
Practice Point: A 911 caller who only provides his first name is an anonymous informant. Any information provided by the caller triggers only a police officer’s common-law right to inquire. Here the officer approached with his gun drawn. The gun discarded when the defendant ran should have been suppressed.