Appeal from the Judgment of Sentence May 30, 2012 In the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County Criminal Division at No(s): CP-51-CR-0000691-2010
BEFORE: LAZARUS, J., OLSON, J., and FITZGERALD, J. [*]
Dennis Patton appeals from the judgment of sentence entered in the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County after he was convicted, following a non-jury trial, of possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance (PWID) and possession of a controlled substance. Upon review, we affirm.
The Honorable Adam Beloff set forth the facts of the case as follows:
At a suppression hearing, the Commonwealth presented the testimony of Officer Hagan of the Philadelphia Police Department. Officer Hagan was assigned to the 'tactical unit' of the 17th police district in Philadelphia on January 5, 2011. In the 17th district, it is the responsibility of the tactical unit to 'address all high violent crimes in the area.' On the night at issue, Officer Hagan and his partner were instructed by their captain to patrol the '21st and Dickinson corridor' due to the fact that there had been a shooting earlier in the day and the prior night. The two shootings in the area occurred in less than a 24 hour period.
At approximately 9 p.m., Officer Hagan saw Defendant on the corner of 21st and Dickinson Streets standing in a large group of men. As Officer Hagan and his partner approached the group, in uniform and a marked police vehicle, the crowd immediately dispersed upon seeing the officers. As Defendant walked away from the group, he reached into his jacket pocket and repeatedly adjusted an object. The officer described, and demonstrated, the motion made by Defendant as a repeated movement of his hand grasping an object near Defendant's belt on the right side of Defendant's body. Based upon, inter alia, the time of night, the location, the prior shootings, the behavior of Defendant and the men he was with upon seeing police, and the hand movements of Defendant, Officer Hagan and his partner suspected that Defendant may have been carrying a gun in the area he repeatedly adjusted.
During his seven years as a police officer, Officer Hagan made more than 60 arrests for possession of a firearm. In addition to carrying a firearm as part of his duties, Officer Hagan received extensive training from the ATF relating to 'weapons carrying.' His training and experience informed the officer that 90 per cent of weapons are carried by people at their waist. With respect to the block that Defendant was arrested on, Officer Hagan arrests four to five people each week for narcotics violations, and has arrested two or three men for possessing guns on that block.
Based upon his belief that Defendant was armed, Officer Hagan stopped Defendant and performed a patdown of Defendant's waist area. Officer Hagan testified that 'As soon as I felt the waistline, I felt a package which had — consistent with narcotics in his right jacket pocket.' The 'jacket' worn by Defendant was not 'puffy' and was described by the officer as 'a sweatshirt.' The package proved to be 80 individual packets of heroin 'bundled' together with rubber bands. Officer Hagan received training in the recognition of drugs, drug trafficking, and drug sales. In addition, Officer Hagan was assigned to the Narcotic Enforcement Team in the 17th district for two-and-a-half years prior to the date in question. Officer Hagan testified that, when banded together in the same manner as Defendant's heroin, bundled heroin has a 'distinctive' feel. The officer testified that as a result of his experience he knew that the bundle of 80 packets of heroin was narcotics as soon as he put his hand on it. Finally, Officer Hagan testified that he immediately removed the object which he recognized to be heroin.
After recovering the heroin from Defendant, Officer Hagan also recovered $509 in cash.
Trial Court Opinion, 7/12/2012, at 1-3 (citations omitted).
On July 13, 2012, Patton moved to suppress the heroin seized by Officer Hagan. Judge Beloff denied the motion. Patton proceeded to trial, and Judge McDermott found him guilty. On May 30, 2012, Judge McDermott sentenced Patton to 2 to 4 years' incarceration to be followed by 2 years' probation on the PWID ...