United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania
MEMORANDUM RE: MOTIONS TO SUPPRESS
case involving allegations of conspiracy to traffic drugs,
Defendant Dennis Harmon, whose trial has been severed from
the other defendants and will begin on September 9, 2019, has
moved the Court for an order suppressing certain statements
he made to police and certain evidence taken from his
cellphone pursuant to a federal search warrant. (ECF 214,
216). For the following reasons, these Motions to Suppress
will be GRANTED IN PART and DENIED IN PART.
the facts relevant to these Motions have been summarized in a
previous Memorandum of the Court Denying Motions to Suppress
Evidence Obtained From 3234 N. Sydenham Street. (See
ECF 340). Counsel agreed that the record developed in
relation to those previous motions should be included in the
record on Harmon's Motions now before the Court. The
Court therefore incorporates that previous summary here by
reference, to the extent those facts are not included below.
September 11, 2017, members of the Philadelphia Police
Department arrived at 3234 N. Sydenham Street, Philadelphia,
Pennsylvania, as part of an investigation stemming from a
shooting that took place elsewhere that day. The police had
determined that a vehicle that was connected to the shooting
was registered to an Abdul West at the address. Around 6:30
P.M., Harmon walked out of the residence at 3234 N. Sydenham
Street and walked across the street and back. (ECF 301,
“6/24/19 Hearing Tr., ” at 9:9-11, 10:5-7,
11:10-12). Upon returning to the property, Harmon was stopped
by the police and questioned about his connection to it.
(Id. at 11:10-12). Harmon told police that he
resided there alone and that he was “squatting”
without permission. (Id. at 11:10-23). He also told
police that he had no knowledge of the vehicle connected to
the earlier shooting, which was registered to a different
individual at the 3234 N. Sydenham Street address.
(Id. at 13:3-9). Harmon provided an identification
card that listed a separate residence, and an officer then
ran Harmon's identification through various police
databases to verify it and check for any outstanding
warrants. (Id. at 12:7-9). The officer did not
return the identification card to Harmon, and other officers
continued to question him. (Id. at 40:22-25,
was directed to remain on the porch or front steps of the
residence, where he was not handcuffed or arrested.
(Id. at 13:21-14:2, 14:16-24).
around 6:39 P.M., Amir Boyer approached the home and inquired
about why the police were questioning Harmon. Boyer told
police that his family used to own the property at 3234 N.
Sydenham Street. He also advised Harmon that he did not have
to speak with police. The police eventually told Boyer to
leave. (Id. at 16:13-20, 17:4-9, 17:21-18:4).
P.M., the police learned that the victim of the shooting they
were investigating had died. (Id. at 21:16-22:6).
Believing that Harmon would have to go to the Philadelphia
Homicide Division for further questioning, an officer then
frisked Harmon for weapons. (Id. at 22:8-24).
while later, after a total of forty-five minutes on the porch
of 3234 N. Sydenham Street, Harmon was transported in a
marked police vehicle to the Philadelphia Homicide Division.
(Id. at 26:10-15). The transporting officer took
Harmon's cellphone at this time. (Id. at 24:18-
23, 26:10-27:3). He was not handcuffed or placed under
arrest, and police officers testified that Harmon agreed to
give a statement to the Homicide Division. (Id. at
arrived at the Homicide Division around 8:00 P.M. and was
placed in a locked witness interview room. His cellphone was
stored in a property box outside the door of the room.
Detective Brian Peters entered to speak with him sometime
after 11:00 P.M. (ECF 291, “6/12/19 Hearing Tr.,
” at 12:7-9). Detective Peters proceeded to question
Harmon for twenty to thirty minutes before advising Harmon of
his rights under Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436
(1966). (Id. at 18:1-5). Before being read
Miranda warnings, Harmon allegedly told Detective
Brian Peters that he had marijuana in 3234 N. Sydenham
Street. (Id. at 15:4-7).
11:50 P.M., Detective Peters then initiated a video recording
of the room and read Harmon the Miranda warnings
from a card. (Id. at 17:1-5, 19:2-4; see
also Gov. Ex. 2). Harmon then initialed the card and
inscribed it with the time. (Id. at 17:13-18).
Detective Peters continued to question Harmon, now on
videotape. (Id. at 21:17-25).
was held in the locked witness interview room overnight. From
the time he arrived until the time he left, Harmon remained
in the room for about nineteen hours. (Id. at
62:16-17). Detective Peters came and went from the room
several times over that period and asked Harmon additional
questions. At some point, Detective Peters brought Harmon a
written summary statement, which Harmon made a change to and
then signed. (Id. at 29:8-30:5). During the
afternoon hours of September 12, 2017, Harmon was taken to be
charged with state narcotics crimes in connection with drugs
found inside the residence at 3234 N. Sydenham Street.
(Id. at 31:8-15, 63:4-6). His cellphone was seized
as evidence in that case. (Id. at 31:2-19).
November 20, 2018, federal authorities obtained a search
warrant to search the contents of Harmon's cellphone. The
warrant was issued on the basis of an affidavit submitted by
an agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation
(“FBI”). The federal authorities then searched
the cellphone that same day.
seeks to suppress three types of statements and also evidence
seized from a search of his cellphone. The statements at
issue can be categorized as follows:
1. Oral statements made outside 3234 N. Sydenham Street on
September 11, 2017;
2. Unrecorded oral statements made after transportation to
the Philadelphia Police Department's Homicide Division
and being placed in a witness interview room ...