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decided: December 13, 1983.


No. 26 W.D. Appeal Dkt. 1983, Appeal from the Order of the Superior Court of Pennsylvania dated October 1, 1982 at No. 558 Pittsburgh 1981, Affirming the Judgment of Sentence of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, Criminal Division, at No. CC8005786, April 29, 1981, 305 Pa. Superior Ct. 647, 452 A.2d 31 (1982)


John H. Corbett, Jr., Public Defender, Paulette D. Balogh, Pittsburgh, for appellant.

Robert E. Colville, Dist. Atty., Robert L. Eberhardt, Deputy Dist. Atty., Dara A. DeCourcy, Asst. Dist. Atty., Kemal Alexander Mericli, Pittsburgh, for appellee.

Roberts, C.j., and Nix, Larsen, Flaherty, McDermott, Hutchinson and Zappala, JJ. McDermott, J., files a concurring opinion.

Author: Hutchinson

[ 503 Pa. Page 171]


This is an appeal by allowance from Superior Court's order affirming Allegheny County Common Pleas' judgment of sentence against appellant for robbery after a jury found him guilty of that crime. The issue before us is whether appellant's arrest, carried out by a McKees Rocks police officer in the City of Pittsburgh, was proper under 42 Pa.C.S. ยง 8901,*fn1 authorizing local police to arrest individuals beyond the territorial limits of their jurisdiction "if the officer continues in pursuit of such person after commission of the offense." We agree with the lower courts that the police were here in pursuit of appellant within the meaning of the applicable statute. Furthermore, the facts show the arresting officer had probable cause. Since the extraterritorial arrest was lawful, we affirm Superior Court.

An analysis of the term "pursuit" is necessary to this holding. Appellant argues that his arrest was improper because the arresting officer was not in "hot pursuit," which he maintains the statute requires. He also argues that the proper standard for police entry into a foreign jurisdiction is a belief based on probable cause that the suspect has entered that jurisdiction. The Commonwealth contends that the term "pursuit" as used in Section 8901 has consistently been interpreted to mean "fresh" or "continuous," rather than "hot" pursuit, and that under that standard the arrest in the present case was proper. It further argues that "reasonable belief", rather than "probable cause", is all the statute requires for local police to arrest in another jurisdiction. In the alternative it contends probable cause existed in this case.

[ 503 Pa. Page 172]

On August 23, 1980, Daniel Irvin was the only clerk operating a 24-hour Mini Mart on Chartiers Avenue in McKees Rocks, Allegheny County. At approximately 6:35 a.m., appellant, holding a sock over his face with his left hand, entered the store, pointed a silver toy gun at Irvin, and demanded the money from the cash register. Although he assumed the gun was authentic, Irvin reached for it. Appellant pulled away and left the store, dropping the sock from his face when he was outside, thus allowing Irvin a clear view of his face for a few seconds at a distance of about 12 feet. Irvin gave chase, but was unable to catch appellant. Irvin returned to the store and reported the attempted robbery to McKees Rocks Police. He also gave them a description of the suspect including his clothing and approximate height and weight. Officer Logue of the McKees Rocks Police arrived about 1 minute later and received from Irvin the route of appellant's flight. Meanwhile, Officer Connors of the same police force drove to Thompson Avenue in the area where appellant had last been seen. A pedestrian informed him that he had seen a man fitting appellant's description running down Thompson Avenue toward the Wind Gap Bridge which leads into the City of Pittsburgh. Five other patrol cars, from McKees Rocks, Stowe Township and Kennedy Township, also pursued the suspect.

Armed with the information from Irvin and Officer Connors, and remaining in constant contact with the other police units, Officer Logue left the Mini Mart in pursuit of appellant. The officers knew that the only three street routes available to appellant were Church Avenue, Chartiers Avenue and Thompson Avenue. The last led over the Wind Gap Bridge. Because all other escape routes were covered and appellant had not yet been seen, Officer Logue suspected that appellant had taken a footbridge under the Wind Gap vehicular bridge into Pittsburgh. Acting on the thought he drove over the Wind Gap Bridge into the city. After crossing, while still looking for the suspect, he circled

[ 503 Pa. Page 173]

    back. Before he got back to the bridge itself he spotted a person whose description matched that of the robber. This person, also wearing clothes like those of the robber, was about 45 yards away when first seen. Apparently, on seeing Logue the person ran away. That Officer gave chase on foot and apprehended appellant on residential property in the City of Pittsburgh. Officer Logue then arrested appellant and seized the toy gun used in the attempted robbery, a sock in appellant's left pocket, and a white and black print shirt.*fn2 Thirty-five minutes had passed since the ...

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