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Wade v. United States

Court of Appeals of The District of Columbia

November 16, 2017

Tyrone Wade, Appellant,
United States, Appellee.

          Submitted September 13, 2017

         Appeal from the Superior Court of the District of Columbia (CF2-14002-15) Hon. Lynn Leibovitz, Trial Judge.

          April E. Fearnley was on the brief for appellant.

          Charming D. Phillips, United States Attorney at the time the brief was filed, and Elizabeth Trosman, Elizabeth H. Danello, Monica Trigoso, and Akhi Johnson, Assistant United States Attorneys, were on the brief for appellee.

          Before Fisher, Thompson, and McLeese, Associate Judges.

          McLeese, Associate Judge

         Appellant Tyrone Wade challenges his convictions for unlawful possession of a firearm, possession of an unregistered firearm, and unlawful possession of ammunition. Mr. Wade argues that the trial court erroneously denied his motions to suppress evidence, that the evidence was insufficient to support his convictions, and that the trial court erroneously imposed a three-year mandatory minimum sentence. We affirm.


         Before trial, Mr. Wade moved to suppress certain tangible evidence as obtained in violation of the Fourth Amendment and certain identification evidence as the result of an unduly suggestive pretrial identification procedure. The trial court held an evidentiary hearing on the motions. Viewed in the light most favorable to the trial court's rulings, the evidence at the hearing was as follows. At approximately 3:30 p.m. on October 8, 2015, an anonymous 911 caller reported a man with a gun in his waist walking in the 1200 block of 7th Street NW. The caller described the man as a black male wearing a navy blue shirt, a tan hat, and blue jeans, walking with another black male wearing a light green shirt. When police officers responded, they saw Mr. Wade, who matched the 911 caller's description of the man with the gun, walking with another man who matched the description of the gunman's companion. The two men were walking about a block away from the location provided by the 911 caller. The officers pulled their police cruiser alongside the two men, who both began running. One of the officers, Officer Christopher Brown, chased Mr. Wade. While running, Mr. Wade discarded items from his hands, including what appeared to be a cellphone. Mr. Wade continued running, with his right arm bent and his hand near his waist area. During the chase, Officer Brown briefly lost sight of Mr. Wade when Mr. Wade ran around a shed. Officer Brown regained sight of Mr. Wade soon thereafter and eventually apprehended Mr. Wade on the other side of the shed near a fence. Officer Brown handcuffed Mr. Wade and patted Mr. Wade down, but did not feel a gun.

         Meanwhile, a civilian eyewitness, Manuel Torres, reported to the police that he had seen a black male with an athletic build run by and toss a gun near a dumpster adjacent to the same shed. Mr. Torres saw the suspect from about five feet away. An officer subsequently recovered a gun lying on the ground in plain view near the dumpster. Because Mr. Torres primarily spoke Spanish, the officers requested an interpreter. The officer who responded to interpret, Officer Kelvin Garcia, eventually escorted Mr. Torres to a show-up identification procedure.

         At the show-up, which occurred at 4:29 in the afternoon, Mr. Wade was standing handcuffed between two police cars, with police officers nearby. From about fifteen to twenty feet away, Mr. Torres identified Mr. Wade as the man he had seen running past the shed. After the identification, Mr. Wade was placed under arrest and searched. Officers found six .357-caliber bullets in Mr. Wade's pocket.

         The trial court denied both suppression motions, and the case proceeded to trial. The evidence at trial was largely consistent with the evidence at the suppression hearing, with the following differences and additions. Mr. Torres testified that he saw two people run by the shed area. Mr. Wade was the second person who ran by, and one of Mr. Wade's hands was high on his waist. Mr. Torres did not see Mr. Wade actually throw the gun. Rather, he saw Mr. Wade run behind the dumpster and "at the same time" saw a gun in the air coming from behind the dumpster. After the gun landed, Mr. Torres did not see anyone else near the shed. Officer Garcia, who escorted Mr. Torres to the show-up procedure, had lived in the area of the incident and recognized Mr. Torres as a maintenance man in the area. The gun recovered by the dumpster was a .357-caliber revolver loaded with six rounds of ammunition. The parties stipulated that Mr. Wade had previously been convicted of a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year and did not possess a gun-registration certificate to lawfully possess a firearm.


         We first address Mr. Wade's challenges to the trial court's denial of the motion to suppress evidence on Fourth Amendment grounds. In reviewing a ruling on a motion to suppress, we take the facts and all reasonable inferences in favor of the trial court's ruling. Peay v. United States, 597 A.2d 1318, 1320 (D.C. 1991) (en banc). We review de novo whether officers had ...

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