In this case the Court of Appeals considered whether the lower court rightly relied on the decision in People v Williams, 4 NY3d 535  as the basis for granting the defendant’s motion to suppress evidence recovered in the vehicle search.
In People v. Williams, two officers of the Buffalo Municipal Housing Authority were on patrol in one of that city’s housing projects when they observed the defendant driving without a seat belt. The officers found that the defendant was in possession of cocaine and arrested him. The defendant moved to have the cocaine suppressed. Under New York law, the housing authority officers are considered peace officers. However, the arrest of the defendant occurred outside of the officers’ geographical area of employment. The People argued that the arrest was a citizen’s arrest. The court rejected the People’s argument and granted the defendant’s motion because the Housing Authority officers were not acting as citizens but were acting under the color of the law. Because the arrest occurred outside of the officers’ area of authority, it was not valid.
The events that led to the arrest of the defendant in People v. Page began when a federal marine interdiction agent, using the emergency lights on this truck, stopped the vehicle in which the defendant was a passenger due to erratic driving. The driver pulled over the vehicle and the marine agent, who sat in his truck behind the pulled over vehicle, contacted Buffalo Police. Under New York law, federal marine interdiction agents are not classified as peace officers.