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United States v. Walker

United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania

March 20, 2018

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
v.
DARRIAN WALKER

          MEMORANDUM

          Sylvia H. Rambo, Judge

         Before the court is Defendant's motion to suppress seeking exclusion of physical evidence and statements made by Defendant as the result of a warrantless search of his vehicle. (Doc. 20.) For the reasons stated herein, the motion will be denied.

         I. Background

         A. Procedural Background

         On July 12, 2017, a federal grand jury returned a three-count indictment charging Defendant Darrian Walker with possession with the intent to distribute cocaine hydrochloride in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841 (Count 1), possession of a firearm by a felon in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g) (Count 2), and possession of a firearm in furtherance of drug trafficking in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924(c) (Count 3). (Doc. 1.) Defendant entered a plea of not guilty to the charges on July 18, 2017. (Doc. 12.)

         On September 7, 2017, Defendant filed a motion to suppress physical evidence and Defendant's statements (Doc. 20), followed by a supporting brief the next day (Doc. 21), wherein he moved to suppress all evidence seized and statements made on the basis that the arresting officers lacked probable cause to conduct the warrantless search and arrest. The Government filed a brief in opposition arguing that the 911 eyewitness call established sufficient reasonable suspicion to approach the vehicle, and once the officers saw packets of heroin in Defendant's pocket, they had probable cause to arrest and search him. (Doc. 26.) The court held an evidentiary hearing on the motion on January 2, 2018.

         B. Facts[1]

         At the suppression hearing, the Government presented three witnesses, Dauphin County Department of Public Safety 911 dispatcher, Joanne Straub, and Harrisburg Police Department Officers Ernest Jenkins and Esteban Restrepo, as well as several exhibits. Defendant did not present any witnesses or exhibits at the hearing.

         At 11:28:41 a.m. on May 7, 2017, Dauphin County Department of Public Safety received a 911 call from 717-218-4078. Ms. Straub took this call and obtained the following information from the caller:

. The caller's name was Jack Stevenson and he was calling from 717-218-4078;
. There were two men in an all-white Buick with “guns hanging out of their pockets” in the parking lot of the Family Dollar on Derry Street in Harrisburg parked in the handicapped spot;
. The caller was behind a truck watching the two men and it looked like they were doing something in the car;
. There was a “patty wagon” in the parking lot of the Big Ugly Warehouse;
. One of the men was black, dark skinned, chubby, and wearing a black hoodie, and the other was a tall, light skinned black male, wearing a grey hoodie with ...

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