Recently, a state appellate court released an opinion in a New York gun case requiring the court to determine whether it was legal for officers to obtain the defendant’s gun, ammunition, and DNA evidence after a police pursuit. Ultimately, the court determined that the officers gave contradicting testimony about the incident and ordered the suppression of evidence, the firearm, obtained from the police pursuit. The case illustrates the strict procedures that law enforcement must follow when investigating a crime or arresting an individual.
The Facts of the Case
According to the court’s opinion, police officers observed an object bulging out of the defendant’s right waistband. One officer stepped out of the vehicle, causing the defendant to flee. Both officers testified with different versions of events. The first officer stated that she began running after the defendant and attempted to grab him, which led to the defendant dropping a gun. The second officer testified that the first officer attempted to grab the defendant before he began running, causing the defendant to drop the gun before the officer chased him.
The defendant was arrested, and a gun, ammunition, and the defendant’s DNA profile was recovered from the scene. Despite the different testimonies by the officers, the court denied the defendant’s motion to suppress the evidence.
On appeal, the court reversed the lower court’s decision. The court explained that police pursuits are justified when the officers have reasonable suspicion that a crime has been, is being, or is about to be committed. The court explained that a suspect who flees, without more, is insufficient to justify police pursuit. A police pursuit is justified only when there are other specific circumstances indicating that a person may be involved in criminal activity.
Here, the two officers testified with conflicting versions of events. The court explained that testimony should be disregarded by the court if it would be physically impossible, contrary to experience, or contradicting. Because it was unclear exactly what occurred during the encounter, the court found that the motion to suppress should have been granted and thus that the charges against the defendant must be dropped.
The credibility of police officer witnesses is critical in criminal cases. Too often, police officers try to fill in the gaps in their investigation by adding to their stories after the fact. An experienced criminal defense attorney can help bring these inconsistencies to the attention of the judge or jury in hopes of discrediting the officers’ testimony.
Have You Been Charged with a New York Gun Crime?
If you are currently facing New York gun charges, contact the dedicated criminal defense lawyers at Tilem & Associates. The knowledgeable New York criminal defense attorneys represent clients facing all types of serious allegations, including gun possession, assaults, drug sales, burglaries, and more. We are ready to aggressively defend our clients’ rights at every stage of the process. To learn more, and to schedule a free consultation to discuss how we can help you defend against the allegations you are facing, call 877-377-8666 to schedule a free consultation.