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United States v. Redrick

United States District Court, District of Columbia

July 4, 2014

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
v.
ROGER REDRICK, Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

RICHARD J. LEON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

Defendant Roger Redrick seeks to suppress all physical evidence seized during the execution of a search warrant at his apartment on April 30, 2013, including firearms and drugs, on the grounds that such evidence was seized in violation of his Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures. See Def.'s Mot. to Suppress Evidence and Mem. of P. & A. ("Def.'s Mot. Suppress Evid.") [Dkt. # 6]; Def.'s Supplemental Mot. in Supp. of His Mot. to Suppress Tangible Evidence and Statements ("Def.'s Suppl. Brief) [Dkt. #15]. He also seeks to suppress statements he made to law enforcement officers that day on the grounds that they were made in response to custodial interrogation without the preliminary warnings required by Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436 (1966), and were not voluntary. See Def.'s Mot. to Suppress Statements and Mem. of P. & A. ("Def.'s Mot. Suppress Stmts.") [Dkt. # 7]; Def.'s Suppl. Brief. The Court held an evidentiary hearing on the defendant's two motions on September 17, 2013, at which Metropolitan Police Department ("MPD") Detectives John Bolden and Kirk Delpo testified to the events surrounding the defendant's arrest, the protective sweep of his apartment, and his questioning both at his apartment and, later, at the police station. See Transcript of Sept. 17, 2013 Motion Hearing, United States v. Redrick ("Hr'g Tr.") [Dkt. #12]. Upon careful consideration of the defendant's motions, the government's oppositions thereto, the testimony and arguments of counsel at the evidentiary hearing, the parties' supplemental pleadings, and the relevant law, the Court DENIES Defendant's Motion to Suppress Evidence, and GRANTS in part and DENIES in part Defendant's Motion to Suppress Statements.[1]

BACKGROUND

Shortly after 6:00 a.m. on April 30, 2013, members of the Fugitive Task Force, including Deputy United States Marshals and MPD officers, arrived at the apartment of defendant Roger Redrick in Southeast Washington, D.C. to execute an arrest warrant for a parole violation related to his conviction for armed robbery. Hr'g Tr. at 4-5; Gov't's Opp'n to Def.'s Mots, to Suppress Evidence and Statements ("Gov't's Opp'n") [Dkt. # 10] at 2. The officers knocked on the door, a male voice asked "who is it?" and an officer responded "police, " and a couple of minutes later Redrick opened the door. Hr'g Tr. at 5, 23-24; Gov't's Opp'n at 2-3.

When Redrick opened the door, wearing pants but no shirt, the officers immediately arrested him at the threshold of the apartment and handcuffed him. Hr'g Tr. at 5, 25; Search Warrant Affidavit [Dkt. # 6-2] at 3. The officers then sat him down at the dining table in the combination living room/dining room, and they proceeded to conduct a protective sweep of the apartment to ensure that no other persons were present. The apartment is a one-bedroom apartment. The front door opens into a combination living room/dining room, which is open to a galley kitchen and a bathroom on the left-hand side. The bedroom is a separate room located straight back from this living area. See Gov't's Opp'n at Ex. A [Dkt. # 10-1] (Diagram of Apartment).

While three or four other officers were conducting a protective sweep of the apartment, MPD Detective John Bolden was standing next to the door of a closet in the living room/dining room, which was adjacent to the dining table where Redrick was seated. Hr'g Tr. at 28-29. Bolden heard a noise come from the closet, at which point he looked at the closet door and noticed that the throw rug in front of the door was bunched up. Hr'g Tr. at 10-11. Bolden checked the door, found it was locked, and asked Redrick a question about the closet. Bolden could not remember the wording of his question, but Redrick responded that maintenance had been there a couple days earlier. Hr'g Tr. at 12. At that point Bolden used his own knife to unlock the closet, drew his weapon, and opened the closet door. Hr'g Tr. at 12; Gov't's Opp'n at 3.

When he opened the closet door, Bolden saw that the closet was small and contained a water heater, but no person was hiding inside. Hr'g Tr. at 13. At that point, aware that no one was in the closet, Bolden asked Redrick a question, phrased either as "is there anything I need to know about in this closet?", Hr'g Tr. at 13, or "is there anything in here I need to know about?", Hr'g Tr. at 46.[2] Redrick responded, "there is a piece in there, " which Bolden understood to mean a gun. Hr'g Tr. at 13. Bolden then looked down and saw a gun box on the floor inside the closet, but did not move it. Hr'g Tr. at 13-14; Gov't's Opp'n at 3. According to Bolden, the total time that elapsed from when he heard the noise to when he saw the gun box after opening the closet was one or two minutes. Hr'g Tr. at 15.

Bolden alerted the other members of the team that he had found a gun box, and Deputy Marshal Versage called the Gun Recovery Unit to start the process of obtaining a search warrant. Hr'g Tr. at 16-17. Then another officer, Deputy Marshal Gause, asked Redrick if there was anything else they needed to know about, and Redrick responded that there was "coke" in the kitchen on top of the cabinet. Hr'g Tr. at 36; Gov't's Opp'n at 3. Gause then went to the kitchen, retrieved a small black bag from on top of a cabinet, opened it, and found a clear plastic bag containing a white rock substance. Hr'g Tr. at 36-37; Gov't's Opp'n at 3. He also found a green plastic wrap on the cabinet containing a white rock substance. Gov't's Opp'n at 3. When Gause brought the bags back into the living room/dining room, Redrick stated that there was a gun under the couch. Hr'g Tr. at 18; Gov't's Opp'n at 3-4. The officers then apparently lifted the couch and saw a pistol on the floor, but did not move it.[3] At no point before Redrick made these statements did the officers give him Miranda warnings.

At around noon, MPD obtained a search warrant for Redrick's apartment. See Search Warrant [Dkt. # 6-2] at ECF p. 6. The police affidavit in support of the application for a search warrant relied on the discovery of the gun box and the drugs, as well as on Redrick's un-Mirandized statements, as the grounds for finding probable cause to search the apartment. See Search Warrant Affidavit at 1, 3. During the execution of the search warrant, the police seized the gun box from the closet, which contained a Glock model 17 (9 mm) pistol, a loaded Glock model 22 (.40 caliber) pistol from under the couch, 227 grams of a white rock-like substance from the kitchen, which field tested positive for cocaine, a scale, and other drug paraphernalia. See Criminal Complaint [Dkt. # 1] and Statement of Facts [Dkt. #1-1]; Search Warrant [Dkt. # 6-2] at ECF p. 6; Gov't's Opp'n at 4-6.

After his arrest, Redrick was brought to the police station to be interviewed. Gov't's Opp'n at 6. MPD Detective Kirk Delpo interviewed Redrick at approximately 4:00 p.m. Hr'g Tr. at 52. After some preliminary discussion of the charges, Detective Delpo read the Miranda warnings to Redrick, and Redrick signed a Miranda waiver card at 4:52 p.m. See Gov't's Opp'n at Ex. B [Dkt. # 10-1] {Miranda Waiver Form); Hr'g Tr. at 52-56. During the subsequent interview, Redrick admitted that the guns and drugs discovered at the apartment were his and that he sells cocaine. Hr'g Tr. at 62-63, 73; see also Gov't's Opp'n at 6.

Redrick was charged by Criminal Complaint on May 1, 2013. On May 30, 2013, he was charged in a three-count Indictment with one count of Unlawful Possession with Intent to Distribute 28 Grams or More of Cocaine Base, in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1) and 841(b)(l)(B)(iii), one count of Unlawful Possession of a Firearm and Ammunition by a Person Convicted of a Crime Punishable by Imprisonment for a Term Exceeding One Year, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1), and one count of Using, Carrying and Possessing a Firearm During a Drug Trafficking Offense, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924(c)(1). See Indictment [Dkt. # 4],

ANALYSIS

The defendant moves to suppress the guns and drugs found at his apartment, as well as his statements, based on three alternative legal theories. First, he argues that the police's search of the closet in his apartment incident to his arrest exceeded the scope of a permissible warrantless "protective sweep." And since all physical evidence ultimately discovered in the apartment pursuant to a later-executed search warrant, as well as his statements, derived from that closet search, all physical evidence and statements must be suppressed as the fruit of the poisonous tree. See Def.'s Mot. Suppress Evid. at ECF pp. 1, 3-5. Second, and in the alternative, the defendant argues that even if opening the closet was within the scope of a valid protective sweep, that sweep ended before Detective Bolden asked him a question without first giving him Miranda warnings, and, based on his response, discovered a gun box in the closet. Accordingly, the defendant's first unwarned statement and follow-on statements in the apartment must be suppressed as Miranda violations, and all physical fruits thereof must also be suppressed. See Def.'s Suppl. Brief at 8. Finally, the defendant claims that all of his statements, both those made at the apartment and those made during a later custodial interview at a police station, were involuntary, and therefore the statements and all physical evidence must be suppressed. See Def.'s Mot. Suppress Stmts, at 3-5; see also Hr'g Tr. at 58-60. For the reasons discussed below, the defendant's first and third arguments are meritless. His second argument, on the other hand, is correct in part. As a result, certain of his statements must be suppressed, but none of the physical evidence will be.

I. The Protective Sweep and the Discovery of the Gun Box in the Closet

The defendant's legal arguments all hinge on the initial discovery of the gun box in the closet. As such, my first concern is the constitutionality of the police's protective sweep, Detective Bolden's first question to Redrick and ...


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