The opinion of the court was delivered by: Ambrose, Chief District Judge.
FINDINGS OF FACT CONCLUSIONS OF LAW and ORDER OF COURT
1. On March 27, 2004, at approximately 10:25 P.M., Pittsburgh police officers, Novakowski, Snyder and Fallert, were on patrol in the Homewood section of Pittsburgh, in an unmarked police vehicle. Snyder was in the front passenger sear, Novakowski was driving and Fallert was in the back seat.
2. At that time, when Fallert and Snyder first observed Defendant's vehicle, a Cougar, they believed it was illegally parked on the left side of a road, behind a "no parking" sign and that it was a hazard. When the officers approached the vehicle, they testified that the car was running and occupied only by the Defendant. Although two witnesses and Defendant testified that Defendant was not illegally parked, I reject their testimony and accept the testimony of Officers Fallert and Snyder that the Cougar was parked and/or stopped behind the sign. William Cargile's testimony was unconvincing in that he remembered the incident in question as an afternoon event. Likewise, Darlene Wall testified that the incident occurred when it was just beginning to get dark -- a time long before 10:25 P.M. in March. This occurred in an area well-known for drug trafficking. Also, the vehicle was parked and/or stopped in a hazardous position, which could have prevented emergency vehicles from passing through the street.
3. The officers stopped their vehicle behind the right passenger side of the Cougar and saw Defendant seated behind the wheel.
4. Officer Fallert exited the police car and walked to the driver side of the Cougar with the intent to ask the driver/Defendant to move along. Fallert saw Defendant put an object into his mouth with his right hand. Defendant began to chew rapidly.
5. Recognizing that this incident was occurring in a high drug trafficking area and suspecting the destruction of contraband, Officer Fallert identified himself to Defendant as a police officer and asked Defendant what he had put in his mouth.
6. As the officer testified, Defendant swallowed and stated it was merely a baggie of marijuana. Defendant's testimony that he had nothing in his mouth, but that the officers nevertheless asked him what was in his mouth and to open his mouth is not credible.
7. The officer asked Defendant to open his mouth; Defendant complied; and the officer observed green leafy matter on Defendant's tongue and teeth, which appeared to be marijuana.
8. Defendant was arrested for possession of a controlled substance and asked to exit the Cougar because he had tampered with evidence -- the marijuana.
9. When Defendant was outside the Cougar, Officer Novakowski asked Defendant for identification. Defendant responded that he had none and that his operator's license had been suspended. When questioned about the reason for the suspension, Defendant stated that it was for driving while intoxicated. The officers confirmed this at the scene.
10. Because the Cougar was illegally parked and/or stopped and because Defendant was under arrest, the officers called for a tow service. Defendant told the officers his girlfriend owned the car.
11. Prior to the Cougar being towed, the officers searched the Cougar pursuant to a written inventory policy, which is performed to document items (and their condition) in the vehicle, including the vehicle's trunk.
12. During the inventory search, among other items, a firearm, ammunition and crack cocaine were recovered from the trunk. These items are the ...