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United States v. Lawson

May 15, 2009

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
v.
TYREE LAWSON



The opinion of the court was delivered by: McLaughlin, J.

MEMORANDUM

The defendant is charged with assault on a Federal Officer with a dangerous weapon. He has moved to suppress the statements he gave to the police after his arrest. The Court will deny the motion.

I. State of Facts

On April 17, 2008, James Burke, a supervisor of the Fugitive Task Force of the United States Marshal Service received an arrest warrant for Tyree Lawson dated July 19, 2006. Someone in the Gun Task Force came to Deputy Burke stating that he was looking for Mr. Lawson in connection with the warrant. The charges were for attempt to commit murder, aggravated assault, criminal conspiracy, violation of the Uniform Firearms Act, possession of an instruction of crime, terroristic threats, simple assault, recklessly endangering another person, and criminal mischief. This warrant was given priority by the Force because it involved a shooting. Deputy Burke assigned the warrant to Deputy Steve Mason to assist the gun violence unit in the location and apprehension of Tyree Lawson. When the members of the task force attempted to stop Mr. Lawson at 5th & Annsbury, Mr. Lawson fled the scene. A shot was fired during the attempted apprehension of the defendant. Deputy Burke instructed Deputy Mason to seek medical attention at the hospital. The Task Force then received information that the defendant was at 415 West Raymond Street. They made a perimeter around the residence and called in the SWAT team. The SWAT team responded to the scene and removed the defendant from 415 West Raymond Street.

Nicholas Via is a police detective assigned to the East Detectives Special Investigation Unit of the Philadelphia Police Department. On April 17, 2008, he was notified by way of police radio of a report of a shooting involving members of the United States Marshal's Service at 5th & Annsbury at approximately 12:55 p.m. He and his commanding officer and other members of the East Detectives, including Detective Dave Rash, went to 5th & Annsbury. The area was cordoned off with police tape. They stayed there for about five minutes.

Later that afternoon, Detective Via received information that Tyree Lawson was barricaded in a house on the 400 block of Raymond Street. The detective went to that location at approximately 2:15 to 2:30 p.m. and saw Mr. Lawson handcuffed and being placed in the rear of a police emergency patrol wagon. Mr. Lawson was taken to East Detectives at 3901 Whittaker.

Mr. Lawson was brought into East Detectives at 3:00 p.m. He was interviewed by Detective Rash in Detective Via's presence. Detective Rash took biographical information from Mr. Lawson. Before any Miranda warnings were given, Detective Rash told Mr. Lawson that he was being accused of trying to run over a U.S. Marshal with his car and that the detectives wanted to give him an opportunity to tell his side of what happened. The detectives might also have told the defendant that a deputy marshal had fired a shot into his car. The defendant expressed a willingness to speak to them. He said: "Yeah, I want to tell you my side of the story." That exchange was never recorded or written down.

Detective Rash then advised Mr. Lawson of his Miranda rights in Detective Via's presence at 4:25 p.m. Detective Rash asked Mr. Lawson the following questions and the defendant gave the following answers:

Question 1: "Do you understand that you have the right to keep quiet and do not have to say anything at all?" Mr. Lawson answered "yes."

Question 2: "Do you understand that anything you say can and will be used against you?" Mr. Lawson answered "yes."

Question 3: "Do you want to remain silent?" Mr. Lawson answered "no."

Question 4: "Do you understand that you have a right to talk with a lawyer before we ask you any questions?" Mr. Lawson answered "yes."

Question 5: "Do you understand that if you cannot afford to hire a lawyer, and you want one, we will not ask you any questions until the lawyer is appointed for you free-of-charge?" Mr. Lawson answered "yes."

Question 6: "Do you want either to talk to a lawyer at this time or have a lawyer with you while we ask you ...


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