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Court makes an error

The Supreme Court of Bronx County granted the defendant’s motion to suppress both physical evidence and statements. The People are appealing. There is an appeal from the same order that granted the People’s motion to reargue and on re-argument adhered to the original decision, dismissed the appeal from the prior order.

Case Background
A man who was wanted in connection with a shooting incident was taken into custody. The police received insufficient identification and conflicting information about his name and his address, the police realized that they had previously arrested a man with a similar name and an address that was close to the one that was given.

As a way to confirm the identity of the individual the officers went to the apartment. The police knocked on the door and a female voice answered. She asked who it was and they informed her that they were the police. The sergeant heard some scuffling noises and the sound of a window being opened.

The sergeant sent two of his officers up to the roof of the building. The officers reported that they saw a person come out of a window on the fourth floor and ascend the fire escape to the roof with an object in his hand. Once the individual reached the roof, the officers told him to freeze and not to move. The individual dropped a bag. The individual was apprehended and the bag was taken. Inside the bag there was a handgun that was loaded along with a magazine and five rounds.

Court Discussion
While it is true that the officers did not have any information about the contents of the apartment or who was living in it, except that an accused perpetrator of a shooting might have lived there. Additionally, it is true that an individual that is not suspected of criminal activity has the right to not answer an officer’s question and even to run from the police without those particular acts creating the grounds to detain that individual. However, the view that the police had insufficient grounds to detain the defendant by the time she made it to the roof is incorrect.

The court made an error by suppressing the physical evidence of the case as well as the statements that were made by the defendant. Based on the testimony from the only witness, a Sergeant with the police force, it is found that every aspect of the police conduct was properly justified by the observations and information that they had in their possession.

The appeal is granted and the motion to suppress both the physical evidence and statements by the defendant is denied.

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