The opinion of the court was delivered by: Juan R. Sanchez, J.
Defendant Kareem Greenwood seeks to suppress a firearm recovered during a January 15, 2010, traffic stop, arguing the firearm was obtained as a result of an unconstitutional search and seizure.*fn1 Because the police officer had probable cause to believe Greenwood was operating a vehicle in violation of Pennsylvania law and reasonably suspected Greenwood posed a danger to him, this Court will deny the motion to suppress.
1. On January 15, 2010, Philadelphia police officer David O'Connor was assigned to patrol the Germantown area of the city.
2. Police had received numerous complaints of narcotics and firearm sales in the Germantown area.
3. At approximately 9:30 a.m., while O'Connor was traveling east on East Tulpehocken Street, he observed a tan Buick Century being driven in the opposite direction by Greenwood.
4. O'Connor noticed the inspection and emissions stickers located on the windshield of the Buick had expired in October 2009, so he made a U-turn and activated his overhead lights and siren. Greenwood promptly stopped his car near the curb of East Mayland Street, one block north of East Tulpehocken Street. O'Connor parked his patrol car directly behind the vehicle and left the overhead lights on.
5. O'Connor approached Greenwood and requested his license, registration, and proof of insurance. Greenwood complied. After verifying the validity of Greenwood's documents, O'Connor decided to issue Greenwood a citation for the expired emissions and inspection stickers and returned to his car to prepare the citation.
6. When O'Connor returned from his patrol car to the driver's side window of the vehicle, Greenwood refused to make eye contact with him, keeping his head crouched down and his gaze directed downward. Meanwhile, Greenwood's hands were tucked near his groin area.
7. Because he was aware of complaints regarding illegal narcotics and firearms sales in the area, upon observing Greenwood's posture and sudden change in demeanor O'Connor became worried Greenwood had a weapon. To ensure his safety and determine whether Greenwood had a weapon, O'Connor asked Greenwood what he was doing. Greenwood lifted his head and said, "Huh?" O'Connor repeated the question and received the same answer.
8. O'Connor then asked Greenwood to place his hands on the steering wheel. Greenwood complied only after O'Connor repeated his command several times.
9. O'Connor asked Greenwood to step out of the vehicle because of his concern Greenwood was concealing a weapon. Greenwood asked why, and O'Connor informed Greenwood he intended to conduct a frisk. After Greenwood became somewhat combative, O'Connor called for backup.
10. Greenwood then refused to comply with numerous commands to step out of the vehicle, and O'Connor unholstered his firearm before again ordering Greenwood to step out of the vehicle. Eventually, Greenwood complied.
11. When Greenwood exited the vehicle, O'Connor handcuffed him for safety and performed a safety frisk of Greenwood's outer clothing. When O'Connor patted the exterior of Greenwood's clothing between his legs, he felt a hard ...