The opinion of the court was delivered by: RICHEY
The Court held a hearing on April 9, 1996 to address the defendant's Motion to Suppress. Upon consideration of the filings by the parties, the entire record, and the applicable law thereto, the Court denied the defendant's Motion to Suppress Tangible Evidence and Statements. The Court's reasoning for its ruling is set forth in the instant Memorandum Opinion.
THE APRIL 9, 1996 SUPPRESSION HEARING
At the April 9, 1996 suppression hearing, the Court heard testimony by Officer Alan James Hall, Officer Kenneth Lewis Hargrove, Sergeant Joseph Thomas, and Sergeant Freddy Johnson, all members of the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department (MPD). Sergeant Thomas testified that on the evening of January 31, 1996, he responded to a radio call received in his marked cruiser reporting gunshots fired in the area of 29th and S Streets in Southeast Washington, D.C. Upon reaching the general area, Thomas did not see any activity, but he did encounter a female who directed him to 28th Place and S Streets, S.E. Thomas drove to that location via Texas Street, made a left turn on S Street, then, upon hearing rapid gunfire, stopped and turned his head to protect himself. According to Thomas, he then looked ahead and saw a vehicle proceeding toward him with its headlights switched off. Thomas testified that the vehicle stopped abruptly and the driver "bailed" out of the car and attempted to flee the scene, leaving the motor running in the car he abandoned. Sergeant Thomas testified that, based on his observations, he suspected that the fleeing individual was connected to the gunfire. Accordingly, Thomas exited his police cruiser and proceeded to chase the individual on foot. The chase stopped when the individual collapsed after being shot by another officer. Thomas identified the defendant in Court as that individual.
Officer Hargrove testified that he examined the defendant's vehicle, a 1983 Oldsmobile, after the chase ended. He testified that the Oldsmobile was parked at an angle, on the street, with the engine running. According to Hargrove, a 9 mm pistol was in plain view on the seat. Hargrove recovered a registration statement from the vehicle, entered as defense Exhibit 3, which indicated that the vehicle was registered to the defendant.
Officer Hall testified that he interviewed the defendant, whom he identified in Court, at the hospital while the defendant was awaiting treatment for a gunshot to his thigh. According to Hall, the defendant stated that he resided at 1801 28th Place, S.E. Hall also testified that he verbally informed the defendant of his Miranda rights at 11:50 p.m., although the officer did not read the rights directly from a card. Hall testified that he did not ask the defendant to sign a waiver card because of all the activity at the hospital. Afterwards, according to Hill, the defendant described the events of that evening, including: that the defendant had imbibed a pint of liquor; that he was driving home when three individuals began shooting at him; that he shot back with a 9 mm pistol; that he then began to drive off but, upon seeing a police car, left the gun on the front seat of his vehicle and began running with his hands up until shot by police. Hall also testified that the defendant did not appear to be in a stupor, to be incoherent, or intoxicated, and that the defendant's speech was not slurred.
Officer Johnson testified that he was present at the scene on the evening of January 31, 1996, after the shooting of the defendant. He observed the defendant's abandoned vehicle, as well as a .25 caliber pistol and a canister of cocaine base discovered near where the defendant fell. According to Johnson, he participated in executing a search warrant on an apartment at 1801 28th Place, S.E. Johnson testified that the MPD recovered from a bedroom and closet in that apartment an assault rifle, an ammunition clip for the rifle, an empty box for a 9 mm pistol, mail addressed to the defendant at the apartment, and lidocaine, which Johnson described as a cutting agent for cocaine. According to Johnson, the defendant's mother stated that two months prior to the execution of the warrant, the defendant resided in the bedroom searched and that some of the defendant's belongings were still in the bedroom.
I. THE MPD DID NOT STOP THE DEFENDANT WHILE HE WAS DRIVING THE VEHICLE, THEREFORE THE DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO SUPPRESS BASED ON THE ALLEGED ILLEGALITY OF THE VEHICLE STOP IS WITHOUT MERIT.
Based on the testimony of Sergeant Thomas, the Court finds that the defendant abandoned his car and fled the scene of his own volition, and that the police did not seize the defendant or make a traffic stop. Sergeant Thomas impressed the Court as a credible and reliable witness. Therefore, the defendant's first argument is entirely without merit. Furthermore, even if the MPD had made a display of authority sufficient to cause the defendant to stop his vehicle, the defendant's flight from the car would prevent him from prevailing on this argument. See California v. Hodari D., 499 U.S. 621, 628, 113 L. Ed. 2d 690, 111 S. Ct. 1547 (1991) (In order for there to be a seizure, the defendant must have complied with any show of authority directing the defendant not to leave).
II. THE CHASE AND ARREST OF THE DEFENDANT WAS NOT ILLEGAL.
Based on the credible testimony of Sergeant Thomas, the Court finds that the MPD had probable cause to pursue and arrest the defendant. Officer Thomas, responding to a radio call regarding gunshots in the area, as well as hearing rapid gunfire himself, observed the defendant driving down the street with no headlights. Upon seeing Sergeant Thomas driving in a marked police cruiser, the defendant abandoned his car in the street, left the engine running, and he fled from ...