Last month, a state appellate court issued an opinion in a New York gun possession case, requiring the court determine if the trial court properly granted the defendant’s motion to suppress a firearm he discarded as police were following him. Ultimately, the court held that the defendant was not seized when he tossed the gun. Thus, the lower court’s granting of the defendant’s motion was reversed.
The Defendant’s Arrest
According to the court’s opinion, an officer responded to a call for gunshots. As the officer arrived on the scene, he saw an unidentified person a few blocks away. The officer lost sight of the potential witness, but gave a description of the person over police radio. Another officer then encountered the defendant nearby. Initially, the officer did not consider the defendant a suspect. However, as the defendant went through a pedestrian cut-through, the officer followed in her vehicle. As the defendant reached the end of the alley, he tossed a gun and ran.
The defendant filed a motion to suppress the weapon, as well as statements he made to law enforcement after his arrest. The defendant argued that he was seized without reasonable suspicion or probable cause when the officer followed him down the narrow pedestrian cut-through. The trial court granted the defendant’s motion, and the prosecution appealed.
The Case on Appeal
On appeal, the court reversed the trial court’s decision to grant the defendant’s motion. The court began its analysis by noting that police interaction must be justified at its inception, based on the officers’ knowledge and the defendant’s actions. The court then explained that an officer can approach a citizen to request information provided the officer has “some objective credible reason for that interference not necessarily indicative of criminality.” However, once an officer restricts a suspect’s freedom, they must have, at a minimum, some reasonable suspicion of criminal activity.
Here, the court held that the police officers were involved in the “unobtrusive observation” of the defendant when following him down the pedestrian walkway. The court noted that the officers did not activate their lights or sirens or exit their vehicle. Thus, the court determined that, even though the defendant may not have been able to turn around and go back the way he came, he was free to continue going in the direction he was traveling. Thus, according to the court, he was not seized when he discarded the gun, and suppression was not warranted.
Have You Been Charged with a New York Gun Crime?
If you were recently arrested and charged with a New York gun possession crime, contact the dedicated defense attorneys at Tilem & Associates. At Tilem & Associates, our aggressive New York criminal defense attorneys have extensive experience handling all types of possessory offenses, such as gun and drug crimes. We command an in-depth knowledge of all state and federal laws governing these cases, and will work with you to create a compelling defense. To learn more about how the lawyers at Tilem & Associates can help you defend your freedom against the accusations you face, call 877-377-8666 to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation.