State and federal constitutional protections prevent police officers from conducting unreasonable searches and seizures. In most New York gun cases, an officer finds a gun on a person or in their car. However, in some cases, police start to chase a defendant, and they toss the gun during the chase. In these cases, whether the gun is admissible at trial depends on if the police officers were justified in their pursuit of the defendant.
A recent case decided by a New York appellate court illustrates this concept. According to the court’s opinion, an anonymous person called 911 to report a group of men, armed with guns. The caller gave police a description of five to seven black men, one of which had a coat that was black and tan, and another with a black coat.
One officer came to the scene to find a man wearing a black-and-tan coat. The officer asked the man if he would consent to a pat-down, which he did, and the officer didn’t find anything. Another officer saw the defendant, wearing a black coat. This officer followed the defendant, providing his whereabouts to other officers over police radio.
Hearing the defendant’s location, a third officer responded. The officer turned on his emergency lights, and began looking for the defendant. When the defendant turned to see the officer, he started to run before discarding a firearm over a nearby fence. The officer later caught up with the defendant, and then recovered the gun.
Before trial, the defendant successfully suppressed the gun by arguing that the officer’s lacked probable cause or reasonable suspicion to “seize” him by engaging in a chase. However, on appeal, the court reversed the decision.
The appellate court acknowledged that the third officer had his emergency lights on, but noted that the officer did not direct any force or authority towards the defendant, and did not do anything to restrict the defendant’s freedom of movement. The court then held that, when the defendant threw the gun over the fence, he did so on his own volition, and was not subject to any illegal police conduct. Thus, the court determined that suppression of the gun was not warranted.
Generally, to suppress a gun in this type of situation, a defendant must show that the officer limited his freedom of movement without having the necessary justification to do so; for example, by telling a defendant to “stop” or “come over here.”
Are You Facing New York Gun Possession Charges?
If you were arrested and charged with gun possession in New York, reach out to the dedicated criminal defense attorneys at the Law Office of Mark A. Siesel. Our team of attorneys commands an impressive knowledge of search-and-seizure laws, which we put to use in each of our client’s cases. When you bring our attorneys onto your case, you can rest assured that you are in capable hands. To learn more, and to schedule a free consultation with one of our New York criminal defense attorneys, call (914) 428-7386 today.