Appeal from the Order Entered October 26, 2012 In the Court of Common Pleas of Bucks County Criminal Division at No(s): CP-09-CR-0004397-2012
BEFORE: BOWES, J., DONOHUE, J., and OTT, J.
The Commonwealth appeals from the order entered on October 26, 2012, granting, in part, Appellee's, Robert Marshall 's, motion to suppress evidence of drugs and drug paraphernalia. The Commonwealth asserts the trial court erred in granting the motion to suppress by finding the arrest of Reinhart was not proper. After a thorough review of the record, the parties' briefs, and the applicable law, we affirm.
The trial court summarized the facts and procedural history as follows:
On March 10, 2012, at approximately 2:11 A.M., Sergeant Raymond Branden responded to a property located at 1523 North Center Road, Lower Southhampton Township, Bucks County, Pennsylvania for a report of two (2) individuals, one of whom was a white male, carrying a flashlight and breaking into a Comcast van. The Comcast van was parked with the driver's side facing 1523 North Center Road; the driver's side tires were parked on the lawn and the passenger's side tires were on the street. [Reinhart] was standing next to the driver's side of the van and holding what appeared to be a flashlight. Sergeant Branden also observed a beige SUV parked on the street next to the Comcast van.
Believing a second individual was in the area, Sergeant Branden, who was in full uniform got out of his marked police vehicle, while using the vehicle for cover, and asked [Reinhart] to identify himself and show both of his hands. [Reinhart] did not answer, kept one hand in his pocket, and continued to walk towards Sergeant Brandon who again ordered [Reinhart] to show his hands. At this time, Officer Matthew Bowman of the Lower Southampton Police Department also responded in uniform, observed [Reinhart], circled behind the Comcast van, and came up behind [Reinhart]. Officer Bowman noted [Reinhart] "appeared to have a stare" and "wasn't really acknowledging Sergeant Branden, " and he ordered [Reinhart] to put his hands on the hood of the vehicle. [Reinhart] complied, and, upon conducting a pat-down, Officer Bowman found a holster and handgun, which he secured. Officer Bowman had his left hand at the scruff of [Reinhart]'s neck and, after the firearm was secured, [Reinhart] and Officer Bowman lost their balance, falling to the left, and ended up on the ground where [Reinhart] was handcuffed.
Officer Bowman gave the handgun, which was loaded, to Sergeant Branden, who secured [Reinhart] while Officer Bowman looked for a second individual. While passing the SUV, Officer Bowman looked in with his flashlight and saw an open can of beer and an AK-47 laying against the front passenger seat. The butt of the weapon was against the floor with the muzzle pointing to the roof and was visibly loaded with a magazine in the well.
[Reinhart] was arrested for the summary offense of Carrying Loaded Weapon.
[Reinhart] was taken back to the police station and searched incident to arrest.
[Reinhart] was charged with Possession of Drug Paraphernalia, Intentional Possession of a Controlled Substance, Carrying Loaded Weapon, and Public Drunkenness and Similar Misconduct. On October 24, 2012, [Reinhart] filed an omnibus pre-trial motion seeking the suppression of the drugs, paraphernalia, and [Reinhart]'s statements after arrest.
After a hearing on October 24, 2012 and argument on October 26, 2012, we granted [Reinhart]'s motion in part and suppressed the drugs and paraphernalia. The trial was continued for thirty (30) days to allow the Commonwealth to nolle ...