United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania
H. RAMBO United States District Judge.
the court is Defendant's amended motion to suppress
physical evidence seized by the police and statements made
after his arrest. (Doc. 39). Specifically, Defendant moves to
suppress the shotgun and other contraband seized from
Apartment 4 of the apartment building located at 1250
Kittatinny Street, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, as well as the
incriminating statements he made to police at the Harrisburg
Hospital following his arrest. (Id.) After careful
consideration, the court will deny Defendant's motion in
November 2, 2016, Defendant Jerome King
(“Defendant”) was charged in a two-count
indictment with being a felon in possession of a firearm in
violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 922(g)(1) and 924(e)
(Count 1), and possession of an unregistered shotgun having a
barrel length of less than eighteen inches and not
identifiable by serial number, in violation of 26 U.S.C.
§§ 5841, 5861(d), and 5871 (Count 2). (Doc. 1).
Defendant entered a plea of not guilty to the charges on
November 8, 2016. (Doc. 12).
January 13, 2017, Defendant filed a motion to suppress
physical evidence and statements (Doc. 24), and later amended
that motion to add an additional basis for suppression,
(see Doc. 39). In the amended motion to suppress,
Defendant argues that the police officers had no reasonable
suspicion to detain him, lacked a legal basis to enter
Apartment 4 and seize the shotgun, and lacked probable cause
to arrest him without a warrant. (Doc. 39 at 2). He further
contends that any statements he made at the hospital were in
violation of Miranda, and any other contraband
seized from the apartment after the comprehensive police
search must be excluded as fruit of the poisonous tree due to
the prior unlawful police conduct. (Id.)
Government filed a brief in opposition (Doc. 29) to
Defendant's motion to suppress on January 27, 2017, and a
brief in opposition (Doc. 52) to his amended motion to
suppress on April 7, 2017. In its briefing, the Government
primarily argues that (1) Defendant's initial detainment
was supported by reasonable suspicion; (2) the warrantless
shotgun seizure was supported by an exception to the warrant
requirement; (3) the warrantless arrest of Defendant was
lawful because it was based on probable cause that he had
committed a felony; and (4) Defendant's post-arrest
statements are admissible because one of the statements was
not the product of interrogation and therefore
Miranda is inapplicable, and because, for any
statement to which Miranda does apply, Defendant was
advised of his Miranda rights, validly waived those
rights, and made voluntary statements.
court held an evidentiary hearing on the motion on April 11,
2017. Following the hearing, the court permitted the parties
to file supplemental briefing on their respective positions.
Defendant filed his supplemental brief on May 4, 2017, (Doc.
61), and the Government filed its supplemental brief on May
15, 2017, (Doc. 63). Defendant filed a second supplemental
brief on June 5, 2017, (Doc. 73), and the Government filed a
brief in response on June 8, 2017, (Doc. 74). The matter is
now ripe for disposition.
Findings o Fact
Bureau of Police Corporal Brian Henry (“Corporal
Henry”), Corporal Scott Johnsen (“Corporal
Johnsen”), Patrol Officer Brent Roadcap (“Officer
Roadcap”), and Patrol Officer Jeremy Crist
(“Officer Crist”), testified on behalf of the
Government regarding the circumstances surrounding
Defendant's arrest and the search of Apartment 4 at 1250
Kittatinny Street. Those circumstances are as follows.
6, 2016, at approximately 4:20 p.m., Corporal Henry responded
to a police dispatch regarding a 911 call reporting that a
man in the area of 1250 Kittatinny Street was brandishing a
shotgun and threatening people in the vicinity. (Doc. 67, Tr.
of Hr'g on Mot. to Suppress [hereinafter “Doc.
67”], at 5, 47). This area is located in the Allison
Hill neighborhood of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, which Corporal
Henry and Corporal Johnsen both described as a high crime
area that produces frequent police calls, often regarding
firearms and drugs. (Doc. 67 at 5, 46-47). The identified 911
caller explained that the man with the shotgun was a
neighbor, describing him as “a black male in his
20's to 30's . . . wearing a black and white baseball
hat, no shirt, black shorts, and black, red, and white
sneakers.” (Id. at 5-6, 18; see also
Id. at 62 (including in the caller's description
that the shoe brand was “Nike”)).
Henry was the first officer on the scene, and, while waiting
nearby in his car for backup, observed a male matching the
911-caller description. (Id. at 7). When Corporal
Johnsen arrived, the two officers drove towards 1250
Kittatinny Street from opposite directions, and as they
pulled up the male matching the 911-caller description ran up
the fire escape attached to 1250 Kittatinny Street and
entered the building. (Id. at 7-8, 48). Neither
officer observed a weapon on the male suspect at that time.
(Id. at 20, 55). Upon exiting their vehicles, the
officers saw a woman emerge from the same building, who
identified herself as Shawnelle Robinson. (Id. at
8). They asked Ms. Robinson who the man was that had just run
into the building. (Id.) When she responded
“Jerome, ” the officers asked Ms. Robinson to
summon “Jerome” out of the apartment, which she
did. (Id.) When the male-later identified as Jerome
King-emerged from the building he was putting on a shirt.
(Id. at 8, 48).
as King exited the building and walked down the stairs,
Corporal Johnsen patted him down for weapons but did not find
any. (Id. at 48-49). Corporal Johnsen then had King
sit and wait on the steps at the bottom of the fire escape.
(Id. at 49). Corporal Henry testified that during
this initial contact with King and Ms. Robinson, he had
observed several small children-all under the age of
six-standing on the fire-escape landing and looking fearful,
and that the children had eventually gone back inside the
building. (Id. at 8-9, 11, 49). Corporal Henry
decided to enter the building to make sure the children were
not in danger and to check for weapons on the fire escape
landing and inside the doorway. (Id. at 11). He took
the same path up the fire escape and into the building that
King had originally taken when the officers had first arrived
on the scene. (Id. at 11-12).
entering the apartment building through the open door to the
fire escape, Corporal Henry saw a hallway with a staircase
and two apartment doors: the door to Apartment 3, which was
facing the fire-escape entrance and a little to the left, was
closed; the door to Apartment 4, which was to the right of
the fire-escape entrance, was open. (Id. at 12;
Government's Ex. 3). While standing in the common
hallway, he looked into Apartment 4 through its open door and
saw the same children inside the apartment “huddled
together” and “still look[ing] like they were
scared.” (Doc. 67 at 12-13). Also through the open
apartment door, Corporal Henry observed a partially covered
shotgun lying on a piece of furniture directly inside the
apartment doorway. (Id. at 14). Upon seeing the
shotgun, he radioed down to Corporal Johnsen the code
“1015, ” indicating that King should be taken
into custody. (Id.) Corporal Henry then entered
Apartment 4 and retrieved the shotgun. (Id.)
Corporal Henry had secured the shotgun in the trunk of his
patrol vehicle, he sought written consent from Ms. Robinson
to search Apartment 4. (Id. at 16). She consented in
writing to the search. (Id. at 17). The officers
found and seized approximately $800 in cash, several bags of
synthetic marijuana, shotgun ammunition, small sandwich
baggies, and rubber bands. (Id.)
meantime, immediately upon receiving the 1015 code from
Corporal Henry, Corporal Johnsen attempted to handcuff King,
but King pulled away from the officer's grasp and started
running. (Id. at 49-50). Corporal Johnsen gave
chase, providing multiple commands to stop and multiple
“ta[s]er commands.” (Id. at 51). When
King failed to respond to the commands, Corporal Johnsen
tased him, with the taser prongs lodging in the middle of
King's back and in the back of his head. (Id.)
King fell to the ground and suffered significant injuries,
which time the officers handcuffed him and called for an
ambulance. (Id. at 51-52). King was taken to
Harrisburg Hospital in the custody of Officer Crist.
(Id. at 53, 66).
Crist accompanied King in the ambulance to the hospital, and
testified that King had responded coherently to the
medics' questions during the trip. (Id. at
66-67). Upon arrival at the hospital and placement in an
emergency room (“Red Room 20”), Officer Crist
informed King that he was under arrest, and that he was a
prisoner receiving medical attention. (Id. at 67).
He also provided King with Miranda warnings, and
King responded that he understood his Miranda
was “agitated and restless” upon admission to the
hospital. (Def.'s Ex. 212 at ¶ 000243-44; Doc. 67 at
79). Due to his agitated condition and the need for a CT
scan, he was given “2 mg of Ativan for sedation.”
(Def.'s Ex. 212 at 000244-45; Doc. 67 at 80). The
treating nurse testified that Ativan can cause
“drowsiness” and “sleepiness, ” (Doc.
67 at 80), and that he would not recommend the operation of
heavy machinery or the execution of a contract if one
experienced those effects, (id.).
this initial treatment, King was taken for a CT scan with
Officer Crist accompanying him, after which they returned to
Red Room 20. (Id. at 68). Officer Crist was then
informed by Corporal Johnsen of the charges against King.
(Id. at 69). Sometime thereafter, King asked Officer
Crist what his charges were. (Id. at 69, 76).
Officer Crist advised King of the charges of which he was
aware, including possession of a firearm. (Id.) King
then told Officer Crist, “I knew I had no business with
that gun.” (Id. at 70). Officer Crist told
King he did not have to discuss the matter, and again
reminded King of his Miranda rights. (Id.)
Officer Crist then asked King if he owned the shotgun, and
King replied that he did not own it. (Id.) King also
questioned Officer Crist regarding where the gun was found,
and Officer Crist told him it was found in Apartment 4, to
which King responded that the police had no business being in
his apartment. (Id.)
Crist also informed King that synthetic marijuana was found
in the apartment, and King initially denied that it was his.
(Id. at 71) Upon further questioning regarding the
identity of the other apartment residents, King admitted that
it was his synthetic marijuana. (Id.)
motion to suppress, Defendant argues that the physical
evidence recovered from his residence (Apartment 4), as well
as the statements he made to Officer Crist at the hospital,
were obtained in violation of his Fourth and Fifth Amendment
rights and must be suppressed.
a motion to suppress, the government bears the burden of
showing that each individual act constituting a search or
seizure under the Fourth Amendment was reasonable.”
United States v. Ritter,416 F.3d 256, 261 (3d Cir.
2005) (citation omitted). The applicable burden of proof is
by a preponderance of the ...