In a recent opinion involving a New York gun possession conviction, the defendant’s motion to suppress was denied. On appeal, the defendant attempted to establish that the police officers who found a firearm in his backpack did not have the right to search him in the first place. The court disagreed, denying the motion to suppress and affirming the defendant’s conviction.
Facts of the Case
According to the opinion, a police officer and his partner were patrolling the streets at approximately 11:00 pm one evening. While inside their vehicle, the pair received a radio call reporting that an individual had been shot nearby. The radio call specified that at the scene of the crime, there was a “Black male wearing a white t-shirt” with a backpack. According to the call, the male in question was carrying a gun.
Less than a minute later, the officers arrived at the location of the shooting. Upon a search of the area, it appeared to the officers as though no one had been shot. The officers did see, however, that a woman nearby was standing close to the defendant, a Black male wearing a white t-shirt. The woman was yelling at the defendant, accusing him of threatening her with a gun.
The officers noticed other Black males in the area wearing white t-shirts, but they identified the defendant as the only one both wearing a white t-shirt and carrying a backpack. The officers approached him and asked to see the contents of his backpack. They promptly found a semiautomatic handgun and charged the defendant accordingly.
On appeal, the defendant moved to suppress the firearm that the officers found in his backpack, saying it should not have been used as evidence against him in court. To address the defendant’s appeal, the court considered two aspects of the officers’ conduct on the evening of the incident: the stop itself and the search of the backpack. Because both aspects were reasonable and legal, said the court, the defendant’s motion to suppress should be denied.
Focusing first on the stop itself, the court determined that it was lawful for the officers to catch up to the defendant and stop him from walking any further. Because the radio call had told the officers to look for a man with a white t-shirt and black backpack, and because the defendant was the only person in the area who matched that description, the officers were reasonable in their assumption that the defendant was the person they should question.
Addressing the search of the backpack, the court concluded it was acceptable for the officers to search the defendant’s bag, even though it was his private property. The officers were justifiably concerned about the public’s safety since they believed the defendant was carrying a dangerous weapon. Because the search of the backpack was lawful, there was no reason to suppress the gun as evidence against the defendant. As a result, the defendant’s appeal was denied.
Have You Been Charged with Unlawful Gun Possession in New York?
If you or a loved one are facing gun charges in New York, there are defenses you can raise to fight your case. At Tilem & Associates, we offer personalized solutions and aggressive representation, leaving no stone unturned in your defense strategy. For a free and confidential consultation, contact us at 877-377-8666.