United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania
FINDINGS OF FACT
AND CONCLUSIONS OF LAW ON MOTIONS TO SUPPRESS (DOC. NOS. 24 AND 25)
ARTHUR J. SCHWAB, District Judge.
Pending before this Court is Defendant's Motion to Suppress (doc. no. 24) and Defendant's Amended Motion to Suppress (doc. no. 25). This Court held a hearing thereon and received evidence on August 12, 2014, where Officers Miller and Young testified and Supplemental Exhibits were filed on August 24, 2014. Shortly after the parties filed their respective Proposed Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law (doc. nos. 31 and 32), Defendant filed a pro se motion seeking appointment of new counsel (doc. no. 34), which the Court ultimately granted permitting prior counsel to withdraw on August 28, 2014. New defense counsel was appointed on September 3, 2014 (doc. no. 38), and a Joint Motion to Reopen the Suppression hearing was filed on September 17, 2014 (doc. no. 39). The Court stated in a Text Order of September 18, 2014, that the issues related to the timing of a further hearing would be addressed at the Status Conference of September 23, 2014. A supplemental suppression hearing was held on November 24, 2014, at which Officers Miller and Young again testified (doc. no. 45). For the reasons that follow, this Court will DENY Defendant's Motions to Suppress (doc. nos. 24 and 25).
II. Findings of Fact
1. Since 2009, Officer Andrew Miller ("Officer Miller" or "Miller") has been a Zone 5 officer with the City of Pittsburgh Police Department, focused in the East End of Pittsburgh. He works as a plain-clothes officer, and is a part of the Pittsburgh Police SWAT team, a group that receives special training in firearms, search and seizure, and the use of force.
2. Officer Ryan Young ("Officer Young" or "Young") is also a City of Pittsburgh Police Officer who is assigned to Zone 3 and has been employed by the City of Pittsburgh Police Department since 2005. Office Young is also in a plainclothes unit and is a Member of the SWAT team. Officer Young has significant training in defensive tactics and arrests/search warrants, with special training in search and seizure. Training requirements include two (2) days per month of squad training.
3. Homewood is the highest crime neighborhood in the City of Pittsburgh, with burglaries, murders, drug activity, gang related crimes and the like. Officer Miller has specifically responded to numerous such crimes in Homewood.
4. On August 24, 2013, from 11:00 p.m. to 4:00 a.m. on August 25, 2013, Officer Miller was working as a plain-clothes officer in an unmarked police car, and he was partnered with Officer Young, who was the driver of the vehicle. The purpose of the detail was in response to a recent to a surge of shootings in Homewood.
5. Officer Miller was dressed in a Green Battle Dress Uniform (BDU), and was wearing a badge. The t-shirt he wore underneath his jacket had the words "Pittsburgh SWAT."
6. Officer Young was wearing squad pants, with black t-shirt and also with his SWAT shirt underneath, and a badge around his neck.
7. As mentioned above, Officers Miller and Young were driving in an unmarked vehicle.
8. At approximately 12:30 a.m. on August 25, 2013, Officers Miller and Young responded from dispatch a call for "shots fired" at subject location. Doc. No. 45 at 22. Typically these calls come from dispatch originate from a 911 call. In this case, a third party anonymous call stated they heard multiple gun shots from the 7000 block of Monticello Street, in Homewood.
9. Because their vehicle was relatively close to the location, it took the Officers less than a minute to reach the 7200 block of Monticello Street. Officer Young was driving west to east on Monticello Street, approaching the stop sign on North Lang Street, with Officer Miller as a passenger.
10. Defendant was walking across the street in a westerly direction. Defendant was walking towards Monticello Street (and the location of the "shots fired") in a ...