New York Court Holds Police Did Not Have Probable Cause to Pursue Suspect

Recently, a state appellate court issued an opinion in a New York gun crime case discussing the defendant’s motion to suppress a firearm that was recovered near where he was arrested. The case allowed the court to discuss whether the police officers’ conduct in stopping the defendant was permissible under state and federal law. Ultimately, the court concluded that the officers attempted to stop the defendant without probable cause, and thus the defendant’s motion was properly granted.

According to the court’s opinion, police received a call reporting a gunshot at a specific intersection. After arriving, police found an unidentified witness about a block away, who reported that he heard the gunshot and had noticed two men walking near the area where the shot originated from. The witness described the men and what they were wearing, but did not indicate that either man had a gun – only that he had seen them at the intersection.

Police continued to the intersection and located the defendant and another man who matched the description given by the witness. Officers asked the defendant to stop. At this point, the defendant’s hands were in his pockets. The defendant turned and ran. The other officer apprehended the defendant a short time later, and recovered a gun nearby after hearing a metal object hit the ground immediately before arresting the defendant.

The defendant filed a motion to suppress the gun, arguing that police officers did not have reasonable suspicion to stop him. The trial court agreed, and the prosecution appealed.

On appeal, the granting of the defendant’s motion was affirmed. The court explained that the government has the burden to prove that a pedestrian stop was legal. To justify initiating a police chase, “the officers must have reasonable suspicion that a crime has been, is being, or is about to be committed.” Additionally, the court noted that a person’s flight is not enough to justify a police pursuit, and that there must be “other specific circumstances indicating that the suspect may be engaged in criminal activity.”

Here, the court determined that the officers lacked probable cause to chase the defendant. While the defendant matched the description given by the witness, the officers had no information indicating that the defendant or his companion had a weapon or were the ones who fired the initial shots. Thus, the court held that because the pursuit was unlawful, anything that was recovered as a result of the pursuit was properly suppressed.

Have You Been Arrested for a New York Gun Crime?

If you have recently been arrested and charged with the possession of a firearm in New York, contact the experienced criminal defense attorneys at Tilem & Associates. At Tilem & Associates, we have extensive experience handling all types of cases, including New York gun crimes. Our attorneys are very knowledgeable in search-and-seizure law, and keep up-to-date on all new developments as they arise. To learn more about how we can help you defend against the charges you face, call 877-377-8666 to schedule a free consultation today.

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