United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania
FINDINGS OF FACT AND CONCLUSIONS OF LAW
Flowers Conti, Senior United States District Judge.
Sidney Pack (“Pack” or “defendant”)
filed a motion to suppress evidence (ECF No. 58). The
government filed a response in opposition to the motion. On
October 8, 2019, the court held an evidentiary hearing. The
parties were permitted to file proposed findings of fact and
conclusions of law. The parties filed those post-hearing
submissions on November 25, 2019. Pack filed a reply on
December 2, 2019. The motion to suppress is ripe for
disposition. There is no need for additional evidence or
Factual and Procedural Background
charged in a two-count indictment at Criminal No. 17-43 with:
(1) possession with intent to distribute a quantity of
fentanyl; and (2) possession of a firearm in furtherance of a
drug trafficking crime. These charges arise out of a traffic
stop and subsequent search incident to arrest conducted on
December 31, 2016.
argues perfunctorily that the traffic stop on December 31,
2016, was without reasonable suspicion. The primary focus of
his suppression motion, however, is that police officers
conducted an illegal entry of a home on December 8, 2016.
Defendant argues that the allegedly illegal search on
December 8, 2016, tainted the events on December 31, 2016,
because the officers who conducted the traffic stop were
aware that the home search on December 8, 2016, was the basis
for the arrest warrant they executed on December 31, 2016.
Pittsburgh Police detectives Devin McGee
(“McGee”) and John Baker (“Baker”)
testified at the hearing. Both detectives offered credible
testimony. The government submitted four exhibits and the
defense submitted three exhibits.
events of December 31, 2016
December 31, 2016, McGee was working as a plainclothes
detective in Zone 2 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. On that
date, he was working with Baker and officer Josh Robey
(“Robey”). (Tr. 17-18).
officers were patrolling Zone 2 in an unmarked patrol car
which was equipped with lights and siren. (Tr. 18).
approximately 12:30 p.m. on December 31, 2016, the officers
were traveling along Bedford Avenue, which runs from the
Pittsburgh downtown/business district through
Pittsburgh's Hill District, at which time McGee noticed a
gold in color Toyota vehicle bearing Pennsylvania
registration KGF3311 (hereinafter the “gold
Toyota”). (Tr. 20).
officers were not familiar with the vehicle. (Tr. 97).
officers were near 1634 Bedford Avenue, where they believed
Pack lived, when they encountered the gold Toyota. (Tr. 96).
officers' patrol vehicle was positioned directly behind
the gold Toyota as they drove up Bedford Avenue. (Tr. 20,
officers observed the gold Toyota fail to stop at several
clearly posted stop signs. McGee was aware that Section 3323
of Pennsylvania's Motor Vehicle Code governs a
driver's duties at a stop sign, and that section requires
a motorist to bring his or her vehicle to a complete stop at
posted stop signs. (Tr. 22-23).
gold Toyota first rolled through the stop sign at the
intersection of Bedford Avenue and Roberts Street. The
officers did not initiate a traffic stop at that time because
they were running the gold Toyota's information through
their mobile computer and were waiting for the information to
come back, which is standard police practice. (Tr. 23).
officers continued to follow the gold Toyota up Bedford
Avenue and it failed to come to a complete stop at the
intersection of Bedford Avenue and Devilliers Street. The
officers did not initiate a traffic stop at that time because
their mobile computer was still processing the information
associated with the gold Toyota. (Tr. 23).
the intersection of Bedford Avenue and Erin Street, the gold
Toyota failed to stop at the clearly posted stop sign at that
intersection, rolled through at a slow rate of speed and made
a right-hand turn onto Erin Street. (Tr. 24).
that time, the officers initiated a traffic stop on the gold
Toyota by activating their unmarked patrol vehicle's
lights and siren. (Tr. 24).
gold Toyota pulled over onto the right side of Erin Street.
The officers pulled behind it. (Tr. 24).
officers did not know Pack was in the vehicle. (Tr. 99).
the officers parked and got out of their vehicle, the front
passenger door of the gold Toyota opened and an individual
whom McGee recognized as Pack exited. (Tr. 24).
McGee was familiar with Pack's physical appearance prior
to December 31, 2016, through social media postings and
because he knew Pack to be wanted on an arrest warrant. (Tr.
McGee knew there was an active arrest warrant for Pack
because he stayed in contact with detective Andrew Shipp
(“Shipp”), who had filed the arrest warrant,
about open cases and constantly checked the ASAP system, the
computer system used to manage paperwork and warrants. (Tr.
Baker knew there was an active arrest warrant for Pack and
was familiar with Pack's appearance because he was a
member of a “Violent Crime Response Team”
(“VCRT”), which circulated photographs of persons
of interest. (Tr. 85).
officers began to exit their patrol vehicle, at which time
Pack looked directly back at them and began to run. (Tr. 24).
McGee yelled, “Sid, stop!” and pursued after him.
Pack ran from the gold Toyota, but slipped and fell on mud,
at which time McGee jumped on him and took him into custody.
McGee searched Pack incident to his arrest on the warrant and
recovered bundles of heroin that fell from Pack's
pockets, a firearm that was caught underneath his shirt, two
cell phones and a bag of marijuana. (Tr. 28-29).
heroin and firearm are the basis for the criminal charges in
this case, Criminal No. 17-43.
Pack was transported to the Allegheny County Jail on both the
outstanding arrest warrant and the additional charges from
the evidence recovered on December 31, 2016. (Tr. 29).
McGee testified that he prepared an electronic citation for
the driver of the gold Toyota, identified as Gillette
Hawkins, for a violation of Section 3323 of
Pennsylvania's Motor Vehicle Code relating to stop sign
violations. (Government Ex. 3). It was not McGee's
responsibility to file the citation. (Tr. 76-77).
citation was never filed. (Defendant Ex. 3).
Connection between the events of December 8, 2016 and
December 31, 2016
McGee, Baker and Robey were part of a VCRT composed of
approximately twelve officers that were detailed to
Pittsburgh's Hill District due to an increase in
shootings. Officers Shipp, Gary Messer