Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

U.S. v. DRUMMOND

May 24, 2000

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
V.
JOSEPH DRUMMOND AND ANGEL MCPHERSON, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Roberts, District Judge.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

Defendants in this case are both charged with two counts of unlawful possession of unregistered firearms and two counts of unlawful possession of controlled substances. In addition, defendant Drummond is charged with one count of unlawful possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. Defendant Drummond moved to suppress tangible evidence seized from the defendants' shared apartment on the day of their arrest, arguing that law enforcement officers failed to knock and announce their presence properly when executing a search warrant at that apartment. Defendant McPherson joined in that motion.*fn1

I find that under the facts of this case, the Fourth Amendment and the knock and announce statute, 18 U.S.C. § 3109 (1994) ("§ 3109"), required the police to do more than they did before entering the premises. The tangible evidence seized as a result of the subsequent search therefore must be suppressed due to the knock and announce violation.

I. Facts

On December 18, 1999, law enforcement officers executed a valid warrant*fn2 to search for narcotics-related evidence at apartment number one, 1837 Kendall Street, N.E., Washington, D.C. ("1837 Kendall"). (Motions Hearing Tr. ("Tr.") at 4.) Defendants in this case both live in that apartment. The police obtained the warrant after a confidential source told them that he had observed narcotics at that location. (Tr. at 4.) In addition, police had received complaints from local residents about narcotics sales there. (Id. at 5.)

The apartment is in a small, residential, two-story dwelling containing only two apartments — the defendants' first-floor apartment and an apartment upstairs. (Photographs admitted as Def.'s Exs. 1, 4, 5.) The outer door to the dwelling is opaque, with no windows allowing visitors to see into the space behind it. (Def.'s Ex. 1.) Two utility meters are mounted to the left of the outer door. (Id.) There appears to be a mailbox directly to the right of the outer door. (Id.)*fn3 The outer door is hinged on the left. (Id.) It opens into a small entryway landing at the base of the narrow staircase leading to the upstairs apartment. (Def.'s Ex. 4.) The landing's width barely exceeds that of the narrow staircase, and its depth is less than its width. (Def.'s Exs. 4, 5.) The inner door to apartment one is immediately to the right of the landing. (Tr. at 7.) Defendants represent in their papers that there were no other residents living at 1837 Kendall at the time of the search. (Drummond's Mot. Suppress Tangible Evid. at 2.) The government has offered no evidence of other residents at that address and appears to concede the vacancy in the second floor apartment at 1837 Kendall. (Government's Opp'n to Mot. Suppress Tangible Evid. at 2.)

Several hours before the warrant was executed, the confidential source provided the police with some information about the apartment. (Id. at 19-21.) The source told the officers that the front door of the building at 1837 Kendall was "usually secured; sometimes unlocked," (id. at 21), and that the front door to apartment number one was sometimes left open by the defendants. (Id.) Police did not otherwise discuss the layout of the apartment with the source, nor was the source asked any questions about whether there were other residents in the building. (Id.) When the police arrived at 1837 Kendall on December 18, 1999, they found the outer door locked. (Id. at 6.) The police did not knock and announce their presence at that door. (Id.) The police used a battering ram or halogen bar to force their way through this outer door. (Id.)

The police then stepped into the small entryway and found the inner door to apartment number one slightly ajar. (Id. at 7.) At this inner door, a police officer knocked and announced, "Police, search warrant. Police, search warrant. Open the door." (Id. at 26.) Immediately after this announcement, the police pushed open the inner door and entered the apartment. (Id. at 27.)

Upon entering the apartment, police observed Drummond coming from the bathroom into the living room. (Id. at 26.) The officers spread out through the apartment to secure the premises. (Id. at 35.) They found McPherson in the bedroom of the apartment. (Id. at 10.)

The search yielded the following items: 1) a .25 caliber pistol; 2) a 12 gauge shotgun; 3) $1175.00 in cash; 4) three clear ziplock bags of heroin; 5) two blue ziplock bags of crack cocaine; 6) mail belonging to each of the defendants; and 7) two cell phones. (Government's Opp'n to Mot. Suppress Tangible Evid. at 2.) The defendants seek to suppress all of that evidence.

II. Law

Defendants argue that the police officers' failure to knock and announce their presence and authority at the outer door at 1837 Kendall on December 18, 1999 violates the Fourth Amendment and 18 U.S.C. § 3109. Defendants also argue that the police violated the knock and announce requirement by not waiting a sufficient time to allow the defendants to respond after knocking and announcing at the inner door. Based on these alleged violations, defendants argue that all evidence seized should be suppressed.

The touchstone for Fourth Amendment analysis of government action is reasonableness. See United States v. Ramirez, 523 U.S. 65, 71, 118 S.Ct. 992, 140 L.Ed.2d 191 (1998). The common law knock and announce principle forms part of the Fourth Amendment reasonableness inquiry. See Wilson v. Arkansas, 514 U.S. 927, 930, 115 S.Ct. 1914, 131 L.Ed.2d 976 (1995). Section 3109 codifies the common law knock and announce requirements. See Miller v. United States, 357 U.S. 301, 313, 78 S.Ct. 1190, 2 L.Ed.2d 1332 (1958). Taken together, these principles establish that if the police do not comply with ยง 3109, they violate the reasonableness requirement of the Fourth Amendment. In this case, as there is no other challenge to ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.