consented to the officers' entry. R. 51a. The Superior Court, however, concluded that the lower court had found that the detectives had made an announcement by ringing a bell or by knocking. Commonwealth v. Ametrane, 205 Pa. Super. 567, 574, 210 A.2d 902 (1965). The lower court did not make a finding on whether an adequate announcement had been made. Furthermore, the detectives testified that they did not see a doorbell. R. 35a. To further obfuscate the issue, the Supreme Court added that Ametrane could not object to the detectives' failure to state their identity or purpose because "he was well aware of who were at his door and why they were there." Commonwealth v. Ametrane, 422 Pa. 83, 88, 221 A.2d 296, 298 (1966).
None of the three state courts' conclusions are supported by the evidence in the record. Opening a door to which two men are applying a crowbar simply does not imply any meaningful consent to entry. Ringing a bell or knocking on a door hardly announces the identity and purpose of the ringer or knocker. Finally, there is no evidence suggesting that Ametrane knew the two men in plain clothes to be county policemen.
However, despite their apparent contradictions, the three state court conclusions appear to be founded on one implicit common premise: that the officers did not explicitly announce their identity or purpose before they entered. At the preliminary hearing the lower court excused the failure of notice by finding consent; the Superior Court found an implied announcement; and the Supreme Court found pre-existing awareness on the part of the relator. Had any of the three courts believed the officers to have stated their identity and purpose before entry, the findings excusing the failure of notice would not have been necessary. We accept the implicit common premise, and from the record find as fact that although the officers possibly may have identified themselves before entering, they did not state their purpose or show their warrants. It is true that at the pre-trial hearing, one of the detectives testified that when Ametrane opened the door, they had shown their badges and informed him that they had warrants. R. 37a. However, there is no indication that the detectives explained the subject matter or nature of the warrants. Furthermore, the same detective's trial testimony indicated that the detectives stated their purpose and identity only after entering and climbing the steps to the relator's second floor living quarters. R. 56a; R. 69a. The state courts apparently accepted the trial testimony as more accurate. So do we.
The State Supreme Court held the arrest and search to be legal despite the officers' failure to give notice of their identity and purpose prior to entry. Clearly, the lawfulness of the method of entry is to be determined by reference to state law insofar as it is not violative of the federal constitution. Ker v. State of California, 374 U.S. 23, 37, 83 S. Ct. 1623, 10 L. Ed. 2d 726 (1963); cf. Miller v. United States, 357 U.S. 301, 78 S. Ct. 1190, 2 L. Ed. 2d 1332 (1958). However, we are warranted in examining the method of entry to determine whether, notwithstanding its legality under state law, the entry offended federal constitutional standards of reasonableness and thereby vitiated the legality of the accompanying search and arrest.
The fourth amendment prohibition against unreasonable search and seizure clearly demands that, ordinarily, before a police officer enters upon private premises to conduct a search or to make an arrest, he must give notice of his identity and purpose; the only exception is when exigent circumstances justify the failure to give notice. Ker v. State of California, supra. Nor is the fact that the officers had search and arrest warrants relevant to the legality and reasonableness of the method of entry or of the failure to give the required notice. United States ex rel. Manduchi v. Tracy, 350 F.2d 658, 660 (3d Cir.), cert. den. 382 U.S. 943, 86 S. Ct. 390, 15 L. Ed. 2d 353 (1965).
The state Supreme Court concluded that despite the officers' failure to give notice, their entry into Ametrane's premises was reasonable for two reasons: first, the officers' entry into the apartment was not "forceful"; second, the Ker exceptions apply because the officers were justified in believing that Ametrane knew their identity and purpose and was then attempting to destroy evidence of his gambling activities. We disagree.
A. Forceful entry
The "forceful entry" in Ker v. State of California, supra, was the use of a pass key by the police. Merely pushing open a stuck door has been held a forceful entry. Keiningham v. United States, 109 U.S.App.D.C. 272, 287 F.2d 126 (1960). Here, the police officers had actually inserted the crowbar between the door and the jamb in order to force the door open. R. 36a. By the officers' own testimony, Ametrane told the officers he would open the door to prevent the officers from breaking it down. R. 36a. That the relator answered the door in his underwear further indicates that he did not open the door voluntarily, but rather felt compelled to do so. There is no evidence in the record that Ametrane voluntarily decided to admit the officers. It is obvious that if Ametrane had not opened the door when he did, the officers would have broken it down and barged upstairs; no entry could have been more forceful. The officers accomplished their objective by the physical threat of applied force; Ametrane admitted them only to prevent the destruction of his property. Only by the threat of force did the officers get the relator's door open and thus gain admittance; the threat was sufficient to render the entry "forceful."
B. The Ker exceptions
The state Supreme Court further held that even if the entry was forceful, it should be considered justified within two exceptions described in Ker v. State of California, supra. The state court observed that:
"[Exceptions] to the rule of announcement exist * * * where the persons within already know of the officers' authority and purpose or 'where those within, made aware of the presence of someone outside * * * are then engaged in activity which justifies the officers in the belief that * * * the destruction of the evidence is being attempted.'" 374 U.S. at 47, 83 S. Ct. at 1636.