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Court Upholds Police Officer’s Search of Discarded Backpack in Recent New York Gun Possession Case

Recently, a state appellate court issued an opinion in a New York criminal law case discussing whether a police officer’s search of the defendant’s backpack was lawful. The Court examined whether the defendant abandoned property as a result of lawful or unlawful police conduct.  Ultimately, the court concluded that the police officer was justified in his actions leading up to the point where the defendant discarded the bag. Thus, the court denied the defendant’s motion to suppress the gun.

The Facts of the Case

Police received an anonymous radio call that there was a man with a handgun riding the B9 bus towards Canarsie. Police waited at a bus stop, and when the defendant exited the bus, a police officer approached the defendant and asked him if he would mind talking to the officer for a moment.

At this point, the police officer claimed that the defendant became nervous and put his right hand into his pocket. When the police officer asked the defendant to remove his hand, the defendant refused. The police officer then drew his weapon and forcibly tried to remove the defendant’s hand from his pocket. The defendant fled and the police officer pursued him. Shortly thereafter, the defendant discarded the bag, the police officer searched the bag, and the police officer recovered the firearm.

The defendant filed a motion to suppress the gun, arguing that its discovery was the product of unlawful police conduct. The trial court granted the defendant’s motion to suppress, and the prosecution appeal the case.

On appeal, the court held that the defendant’s motion to suppress should have been denied, and reversed the lower court’s decision to grant the motion. The court explained that the police officer was justified in approaching and questioning the defendant, given the information that the police officer had at the time. Further, once the police officer saw the defendant acting nervously and putting his hands in his pockets, the court explained that this gave the officer justification to attempt to remove the defendant’s hands from his pockets and perform a pat-down for officer safety.

Thus, at the point where the defendant fled, the court explained that the police officer was able to lawfully chase him. And because all of the officers’ actions were justified up until this point, when the defendant discarded the bag it was not the product of forced abandonment and thus the police officer was lawfully able to search the bag.

Have You Been Arrested for New York Firearms Offense?

If you have recently been arrested and charged with a New York gun case, you should contact the law firm of Tilem & Associates. At Tilem & Associates, we represent those who have been charged with serious New York misdemeanor and felony offenses. We work closely with our clients to develop a viable defense for all charges you are facing. In the event the evidence is overwhelming, we will negotiate with the prosecution to obtain a favorable plea agreement. To learn more, and to speak with a dedicated New York criminal defense attorney, call us today at 877-377-8666 to schedule a free consultation.

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