FLIGHT FROM POLICE ALONE IS INSUFFICIENT TO JUSTIFY FURTHER POLICE INTRUSION [People v. Pirillo (3rd Dept November 24, 2010)]
As we have discussed often in this blog, suppression of evidence can often be the best avenue of an attack for an experienced criminal attorney. New York Courts have consistently held that one’s flight from the police, absent additional conduct creating a reasonable suspicion that a crime has been, is being, or is about to be committed is insufficient to justify further police pursuit. In other words, one’s flight from police alone, is insufficient to justify further police intrusion.
In People v. Prillo, the New York Appellate Division, Third Department upheld this long-standing legal principle reversing the Broome County Court’s denial of a defendant’s motion to suppress physical evidence. In Priollo, the police received a report of a suspicious person. The first officer to arrive saw a man fitting the description running out of a driveway towards her police car. At that time she had no reason to believe defendant had committed any crimes. She ordered defendant to stop. Defendant ignored her order, turned and started running away from the officer. The officer followed the running defendant in her patrol car. While he was running, defendant pulled jewelry and coins out of his pants and threw them on the lawn of a house he was passing. The property was recovered.
The defendant moved to suppress the property arguing that he tossed the items as a result of unlawful police conduct. The Broome County Court denied the motion. The Third Department reversed writing that while the officer could lawfully request information from the defendant about his presence in the area, the law did not require the defendant to answer the inquiry or stop running. The Court further wrote that flight from police, alone, was insufficient to justify further police intrusion such as a pursuit.
The Court found that the defendant discarded the property in response to the illegal pursuit. Accordingly, the Court held that the physical evidence was tainted by the improper police conduct and should have been suppressed.
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