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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. GREGORY ANDERSON (10/05/78)

decided: October 5, 1978.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA
v.
GREGORY ANDERSON, APPELLANT



No. 160 January Term, 1977, Appeal from the Order of the Superior Court Affirming the Order of the Common Pleas Court of Philadelphia County (Misc. No. 75-00-2355), Denying Petition for Writ of Certiorari from the Municipal Court of Philadelphia County, March Sessions, 1975, No. 897.

COUNSEL

Defender Ass'n of Philadelphia, Benjamin Lerner, Defender, John W. Packel, Asst. Public Defender, Philadelphia, for appellant.

Edward G. Rendell, Dist. Atty., Steven H. Goldblatt, Deputy Dist. Atty. for Law, Robert B. Lawler, Chief, Appeals Div., Philadelphia, for appellee.

Nix, Justice. Manderino, J., did not participate in the consideration of this case. Larsen, J., dissents.

Author: Nix

[ 481 Pa. Page 293]

OPINION OF THE COURT

On March 8, 1975, police radio received an anonymous call and transmitted a report that there was a man who was an escapee from a drug rehabilitation program in a bar at 57th and Master Streets in the City of Philadelphia. The caller described the person as a Negro male, named "Perry" about 5'10" with a large "bush" hair style and wearing a dark coat. As a result of receiving the above information, two police officers went to the Capri Bar, entering by the rear door. Upon entrance they observed the appellant, Gregory Anderson and decided that he fitted the above description.

[ 481 Pa. Page 294]

They approached appellant and asked him his name. Appellant replied that his name was Charles Hayes. Appellant was requested to stand and one officer asked whether he was carrying any weapons. The other officer without waiting for a response leaned over and touched appellant's right jacket pocket and felt an object which appeared to him to be a gun. The object was retrieved from the pocket of appellant and found to be a loaded and operable .22 calibre revolver. After seizing the weapon the appellant was searched and identification papers were found upon his person indicating that he was known as "Perry" and that his correct name was Gregory Anderson.

Thereafter appellant was convicted in the Municipal Court of Philadelphia upon the charges of carrying a firearm without a license, carrying a firearm in a public place, possession of an instrument of crime, and prohibited offensive weapon (former convict prohibited from owning or possessing a firearm). Prior to trial a timely motion to suppress evidence was denied. The Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County denied his petition for a writ of certiorari.*fn1 This decision was affirmed by the Superior Court, Commonwealth v. Anderson, 240 Pa. Super. 1, 360 A.2d 739 (1976). This Court granted appellant's petition for review.*fn2

This appeal raises, once again, the question of police officers authority to "stop" and "frisk" a suspect under circumstances which do not amount to probable cause. The United States Supreme Court has made it clear that the Fourth Amendment applies to all seizures of a person, including seizures that involve only a brief detention short of traditional arrest. United States v. Brignoni-Ponce, 422 U.S. 873, 95 S.Ct. 2574, 45 L.Ed.2d 607 (1975); Davis v. Mississippi, 394 U.S. 721, 89 S.Ct. 1394, 22 L.Ed.2d 676

[ 481 Pa. Page 295]

(1969); Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1, 88 S.Ct. 1868, 20 L.Ed.2d 889 (1968). In the case of Terry v. Ohio, supra, the United States Supreme Court pointed out that "a police officer may in appropriate circumstances and in an appropriate manner approach a person for purposes of investigating possible criminal behavior even though there is no ...


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