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Commonwealth v. Brockman
Superior Court of Pennsylvania
July 5, 2017
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA
JULIUS BROCKMAN Appellant
from the Judgment of Sentence June 13, 2016 In the Court of
Common Pleas of Philadelphia County Criminal Division at
BEFORE: OTT, DUBOW, JJ., and STEVENS, P.J.E. [*]
Julius Brockman appeals the judgment of sentence entered in
the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County on June 13,
2016, at which time he was sentenced to an aggregate term of
four (4) years to eight (8) years in prison following a
stipulated bench trial. We affirm.
trial court aptly set forth the relevant procedural history
and facts herein as follows:
The Commonwealth charged Appellant with violating sections
6105, 6106, and 6108 of the Uniform Firearms Act (18 Pa.
C.S.A. §§ 6105, 6106, and 6108), possessing with
intent to deliver a controlled substance (35 P.S. §
780-113(a)(30)), and knowingly or intentionally possessing a
controlled substance (35 P.S. § 780-113(a)(16)). On
April 11, 2016, Appellant brought a pretrial motion to
suppress physical evidence, which this [c]ourt denied. A
bench trial followed and this [c]ourt found Appellant guilty
of the above-referenced crimes.
On June 13, 2016, this [c]ourt sentenced Appellant to three
(3) to six (6) years' incarceration for violating section
6106 of the Uniform Firearms Act, one (1) to two (2)
years' consecutive incarceration for violating section
6105 of the Uniform Firearms Act, and three (3) years'
probation for violating section 6108 of the Uniform Firearms
Act. This [c]ourt imposed no further sentence for
Appellant's remaining convictions and his aggregate
sentence therefore is four (4) to eight (8) years'
incarceration followed by three (3) years' probation.
On June 22, 2016, Appellant filed a post-sentence motion for
reconsideration of sentence, which this [c]ourt denied on
June 30, 2016. On July 28, 2016, Appellant filed a Notice of
Appeal to the Pennsylvania Superior Court, and on October 18,
2016, Appellant filed a Statement of Matters Complained of on
Appeal pursuant to Pa. R.A.P. No. 1925(b).
Appellant brought a motion to suppress a firearm and crack
cocaine that he discarded onto a public street in
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. At the suppression hearing, the
Commonwealth presented the testimony of Philadelphia Police
Detective Michael Rocks (Detective Rocks), and Philadelphia
Police Officer Alexander McChord (Officer McChord).
Detective Rocks testified that he was assigned to investigate
a shooting that occurred on December 12, 2014, around the
2500 block of North 30th Street in the city and county of
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Pursuant to his investigation,
Detective Rocks received information from another police
officer, Officer Calabrese, who spoke to the shooting victim
at the hospital. Officer Calabrese advised Detective Rocks
that the victim stated "he couldn't believe Ju Ju
shot Him." The victim also provided Officer Calabrese a
physical description of "Ju Ju" (e.g., height and
weight), which Officer Calabrese relayed to Detective Rocks.
Thereafter, Detective Rocks "reviewed numerous
photographs" from files relating to previous pedestrian
stops in the shooting area. Based on the suspect's
nickname, physical description, and the neighborhood of the
shooting, Detective Rocks ultimately developed Appellant as
the suspected shooter.1 (Id. at pgs. 5-10, 16-18).2
On December 23, 2014, after already developing Appellant as a
suspect, Detective Rocks received a phone call at Central
Detectives from a female identifying herself as the
victim's girlfriend. The girlfriend advised that
"the male that shot her boyfriend was standing on the
2600 block of North 30th Street ... wearing a grey jacket and
jeans."3 The girlfriend did not identify the alleged
shooter by name but provided Detective Rocks a "clothing
description." Detective Rocks subsequently called
Officer McChord and his partner (Officer D'Amico), who
were uniformed patrol officers in the area, and "asked
them to go to that location to see if they observed the male
who matched that description[.]" In addition to relaying
the girlfriend's "clothing description" of the
person she identified as the shooter, Detective Rocks
informed Officer McChord that his suspect's name
in the shooting was Julius Brockman (i.e.,
Appellant). Although Appellant was still only a suspect and
no arrest warrant had been issued for him, Detective Rocks
requested that if the officers saw Appellant at the described
location, "to stop him and bring him to Central
Detectives for investigation." (Id. at pgs.
Officer McChord already knew Appellant "from seeing him
in the neighborhood" and because his partner
"arrested him earlier that year." Upon arriving at
the above-referenced location, Officer McChord, who was the
front seat passenger in the patrol car, recognized Appellant
walking down the block with another male. Officer D'Amico
pulled the patrol car beside Appellant and Officer McChord
then "opened up the door and told [Appellant] to
stop." (Id. at pgs. 20-25).
Officer McChord testified that he "told [Appellant] to
stop right there" in a "normal manner" -
i.e., Officer McChord neither yelled stop nor said
it with a "soft voice." Moreover, Officer McChord
kept his firearm holstered and no lights or sirens were
activated on the patrol vehicle. Officer McChord testified
that his "whole point" of stopping Appellant was
not to arrest him but "for investigation purposes."
(Id. at pgs. 23-24).
As soon as Officer McChord told Appellant to stop, Appellant
"immediately reached for his front right side of his
waistband holding on to something and then fled."
Officer McChord believed Appellant was clutching a firearm in
his waistband because he had seen individuals clutch firearms
in such manner between fifteen (15) and twenty (20)
occasions. In Officer McChord's experience, when someone
keeps an unholstered firearm in his/her waistband, he/she
must grasp the weapon while running or it will fall out of
his/her waistband. (Id. at pgs. 24-29).
As Appellant fled the officers, Officer McChord observed him
remove from his waistband a black handgun and a "clear
bag, " both of which Appellant dropped in front of a
black SUV parked on the street. Although Officer McChord
eventually lost sight of Appellant when the latter ran down a
side street, his partner (Officer D'Amico) arrested
Appellant the very next day pursuant to an arrest warrant.
(Id. at pgs. 24-29).
Before trial, Appellant moved to suppress the firearm and
"clear bag" that he discarded while fleeing from
the officers. Appellant claimed Officer McChord had initially
ordered him to stop without reasonable suspicion that
Appellant was engaging in criminal activity at that
time. Appellant therefore claimed that the discarded
items were fruits of a "forced abandonment"
precipitated by an unlawful seizure. (Id. at pgs.
This [c]ourt denied Appellant's motion and thereafter
conducted a stipulated bench trial. Appellant stipulated that
Officer McChord would testify at trial that he recovered the
"clear bag" that Appellant discarded, and that the
bag contained thirty-five (35) "clear plastic Ziploc
packets" of crack cocaine. Officer McChord also would
testify that the firearm Appellant had discarded was placed
on a property receipt and was "test fired and ... found
to be operable." Appellant further stipulated that the
Commonwealth's expert, "Officer Keys, " would
testify that he "reviewed the file" and heard the
testimony, and expertly opines that the crack cocaine
Appellant discarded "was possessed with the intent to
deliver." In addition to the stipulated testimony, the
Commonwealth submitted a Certificate of Nonlicensure and a
criminal "extract indicating [Appellant] is ineligible
to possess a firearm in Pennsylvania." (Id. at
Based on the above evidence, this [c]ourt found Appellant
guilty of unlawfully possessing a firearm (18 Pa. C.S.A.
§ 6105), carrying a firearm without a license (18 Pa.
C.S.A. § 6106), unlawfully carrying a firearm on the
public streets of Philadelphia (18 Pa. C.S.A. § 6108),
possessing with intent to deliver a controlled substance (35
P.S. § 780-113(a)(30)), and knowingly or intentionally
possessing a controlled substance (35 P.S. §
780-113(a)(16)). (Id. at pg. 52). For
Appellant's firearms convictions, this [c]ourt sentenced
him to an aggregate term of four (4) to eight (8) years'
incarceration, followed by three (3) years' probation.
This [c]ourt imposed no sentence for Appellant's
narcotics convictions. (N.T., 6/13/16, pgs. 19-20.
1Detective Rocks testified that Appellant had a
tattoo on his body that stated, "Ju Ju." However,
the Commonwealth subsequently stipulated that if Appellant
testified, he would exhibit to the [c]ourt that he had no
tattoo bearing the name Ju Ju. (Id. at pgs. 18, 29).
2 Detective Rocks testified that the victim was
"uncooperative" in the investigation and refused to
give a statement about the incident, notwithstanding the
detective's several attempts to interview him. Because
the victim refused to cooperate, Detective Rocks did not show
him photographs of Appellant for purposes of identification.
(Id. at pgs. 19-20).
3 Detective Rocks testified that he believes this
female obtained his phone number from his work card that he
left at the hospital with the victim. Although Detective
Rocks never met this female in person or formally interviewed
her at the police station, she had called him "several
times" between the day ...
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