Argued: January 21, 2015.
Appeal from the Superior Court of the District of Columbia. (CF2-13790-12). (Hon. Stuart Nash, Trial Judge).
Ian A. Williams for appellant.
Christopher Howland, Assistant United States Attorney, for appellee. Ronald C. Machen Jr., United States Attorney at the time the brief was filed, and Elizabeth Trosman, Suzanne Grealy Curt, Christian Natiello, and John Cummings, Assistant United States Attorneys, were on the brief for appellee.
Before BLACKBURNE-RIGSBY and MCLEESE, Associate Judges, and FERREN, Senior Judge.
Mcleese, Associate Judge
Appellant Patrick Broom challenges his convictions for possession of an unregistered firearm and unlawful possession of a firearm. We reverse, because Mr. Broom's convictions rest on evidence of statements he made to the police after being subjected to custodial interrogation in violation of the requirements of Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436, 86 S.Ct. 1602, 16 L.Ed.2d 694 (1966).
After holding a pretrial hearing on Mr. Broom's motion to suppress evidence, the trial court denied the motion in part and granted it in part. Viewed in the light most favorable to the trial court's suppression ruling, the evidence at the hearing was as follows. On August 7, 2012, Metropolitan Police Department Officers Donte Allen and Arthur Kimball went to an apartment building at 5044 C Street, SE, in response to a complaint about destruction of property. The property manager of the building told the officers that he had noticed a bullet hole while renovating apartment 11. When the officers went into that apartment, they saw a bullet hole in the wall between that apartment and apartment 12, which was next door. Based on the location of the bullet in the wall and the characteristics of the holes made by the bullet, the officers concluded that the bullet had come from apartment 12. At the time, the officers did not know when the bullet holes had been made.
The officers went over and knocked on the door of apartment 12. Ms. Shawnta Hagans, who lived in apartment 12, opened the door. After explaining the situation to Ms. Hagans, the officers asked if they could discuss the matter in private. After Ms. Hagans gave the officers permission, the officers entered the apartment. Mr. Broom was present in the apartment but stated that he did not live there. Ms. Hagans's child was also in the apartment. The record does not indicate the child's age, but the child was referred to at trial as a baby. As soon as the officers entered the apartment, Officer Kimball saw a bullet hole in the wall. The officers immediately handcuffed Mr. Broom and Ms. Hagans. The officers told Mr. Broom and Ms. Hagans that they were not under arrest and were being handcuffed for the officers' safety. Mr. Broom and Ms. Hagans were not free to leave at that point. After the officers said that they believed that a firearm was in the apartment, Mr. Broom and Ms. Hagans both denied knowledge of a firearm in the apartment.
At that point, Ms. Hagans's child started crying, so the officers removed Ms. Hagans's handcuffs to permit Ms. Hagans to tend to her child. The officers then told Mr. Broom and Ms. Hagans that if there was a firearm inside the apartment, both Mr. Broom and Ms. Hagans could be placed under arrest and the child would be sent to Child and Family Services. According to Officer Allen, this statement was not a threat but rather was advice to Mr. Broom and Ms. Hagans about what would happen if they were not honest. Ms. Hagans started crying and pleading with Mr. Broom to tell the officers where the weapon was. Mr. Broom said he would be honest with the officers, got up off the couch, motioned with his head toward the kitchen, and indicated that the firearm was in the kitchen. Mr. Broom then walked over to the kitchen, escorted by Officer Allen, who was holding Mr. Broom's arm. After Mr. Broom motioned with his foot to a kitchen cabinet, the officers opened the cabinet and found a firearm. Officer Kimball saw that the firearm did not have a magazine. He asked Mr. Broom where the magazine was, and Mr. Broom said that the magazine was in the bedroom. Ms. Hagans told Officer Kimball that she knew where the magazine was, went with Officer Kimball to the back bedroom, and showed Officer Kimball the magazine and additional ammunition.
After the officers located the firearm and ammunition, they advised Mr. Broom that he was under arrest. Officer Allen subsequently smelled marijuana and asked Mr. Broom where the marijuana was. Mr. Broom directed Officer Allen to a bag of marijuana in a kitchen cabinet.
The officers were in the apartment for about ten minutes before Mr. Broom directed the officers to the firearm. Mr. Broom subsequently indicated that the firearm was his friend's and explained how the firearm had gone off. At no point did the officers advise Mr. Broom or Ms. Hagans of their Miranda rights. The officers did not place Ms. Hagans under arrest on the scene, because she did not appear to know where the firearm was located. Ms. Hagans was subsequently charged but was not convicted at trial.
After the suppression hearing, the United States conceded that the officers had violated the requirements of Miranda by asking Mr. Broom about the marijuana after Mr. Broom had been placed under arrest. The United States therefore conceded that Mr. Broom's statement about the marijuana, as well as the evidence of the recovery of the marijuana, should be suppressed. But see United States v. Patane, 542 U.S. 630, 124 S.Ct. 2620, 159 L.Ed.2d 667 (2004) ( Miranda violation requires suppression of statements but not tangible fruits of statements). The trial court accepted that concession and also ruled that the officers had violated the requirements of Miranda by asking about the magazine after the firearm had been found. The trial court therefore suppressed the statements about the magazine, as well as any evidence about the recovery of the magazine. The trial court declined, however, to suppress evidence of Mr. Broom's statements indicating the location of the firearm, concluding that Mr. Broom was not in custody at ...