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McGlenn v. United States

Court of Appeals of The District of Columbia

July 11, 2019

Royale McGlenn Sr., Appellant,
United States, Appellee.

          Argued April 30, 2019

          Appeal from the Superior Court of the District of Columbia (CF2-9825-17) Hon. Kimberley Knowles, Trial Judge

          Paige Sharpe, with whom Mary Kennedy was on the brief, for appellant.

          Steven B. Snyder, Assistant United States Attorney, with whom Jessie K. Liu, United States Attorney, and Elizabeth Trosman and Puja Bhatia, Assistant United States Attorneys, were on the brief, for appellee.

          Before Fisher, Thompson, and McLeese, Associate Judges.

          McLeese, Associate Judge:

         Appellant Royale McGlenn Sr. appeals from his convictions for firearms offenses, arguing that the trial court erroneously denied his motion to suppress evidence. We affirm.


         Viewed in the light most favorable to the trial court's ruling, the evidence at the suppression hearing was as follows. At approximately 10:45 pm on June 5, 2017, Metropolitan Police Department officers Sherwin Charles and Angela Galli responded to a report of an assault in progress. When Officer Charles arrived he saw Mr. McGlenn standing outside in front of the location provided in the report. Mr. McGlenn, who matched the description of the suspected assailant, was sweating, not well-oriented, and confused. Officer Charles smelled alcohol or PCP coming from Mr. McGlenn. Officer Charles directed Mr. McGlenn to stop, so that Officer Charles could investigate the reported assault. Mr. McGlenn did not comply, so Officer Charles grabbed Mr. McGlenn. Mr. McGlenn continued to resist, pulling out of his shirt. In Officer Charles's experience, intoxicated individuals tend to be aggressive and noncompliant. For that reason, and given Mr. McGlenn's resistance, Officer Charles handcuffed Mr. McGlenn, to safely detain him while officers investigated the assault. Mr. McGlenn resisted being handcuffed. Officer Charles also radioed for an ambulance to come and assess Mr. McGlenn's medical condition. It is standard practice to call an ambulance to evaluate individuals who are suspected of being high on PCP, because such individuals can suddenly become incredibly aggressive and very strong, and often hurt themselves.

         When Officer Galli arrived, she saw Officer Charles restraining Mr. McGlenn. Officer Galli smelled PCP coming from Mr. McGlenn's person. Mr. McGlenn "appeared to be high on something" and was displaying disorientation and "broken thought process." Officer Galli interviewed Mr. McGlenn's mother, who had called the police. Mr. McGlenn's mother explained that Mr. McGlenn had come into her home and was yelling for his son, who was in bed. Mr. McGlenn's mother concluded that Mr. McGlenn had been smoking something, because he did not usually act the way he was acting. Mr. McGlenn's mother was so frightened that she ran to a neighbor's house and called the police. Mr. McGlenn's mother indicated, however, that no actual assault had occurred. Mr. McGlenn's mother told the police that she wanted Mr. McGlenn to be treated because he was under the influence of something.

         Officer Galli informed Officer Charles of her conversation with Mr. McGlenn's mother. The officers decided not to arrest Mr. McGlenn for assault, but they also decided not to release him until an ambulance came to evaluate him, because he might be a threat to himself or others if he were released. The officers decided to leave Mr. McGlenn in handcuffs until the ambulance arrived, to prevent him from leaving or hurting himself or the officers. During the officers' encounter with Mr. McGlenn, Mr. McGlenn was angry, irate, and upset; was yelling; fumbled to remember information; slurred words; was at one point incoherent; seemed to be "out of it"; and frequently repeated himself. Once he was handcuffed, however, Mr. McGlenn did not act aggressively towards the officers or threaten them. Mr. McGlenn also was able to answer a number of the officers' questions. At one point, Mr. McGlenn stated that he did not remember having seen his mother that evening.

         About ten minutes after the officers decided not to arrest Mr. McGlenn, and while they were waiting for the ambulance to arrive, Mr. McGlenn told the officers that he had a gun in his pants. Officer Charles then recovered a gun from Mr. McGlenn's pants. The officers arrested Mr. McGlenn for possessing the gun. Before he was transported from the scene, Mr. McGlenn was evaluated by medical personnel, who determined that he did not need to go to the hospital.

         The trial court credited the officers' testimony, much of which was corroborated by body-worn camera footage that had been admitted into evidence at the suppression hearing. The trial court determined that even after the assault investigation was over, the officers could lawfully continue to detain Mr. McGlenn until an ambulance came, "for his safety and the safety of the community." Specifically, the trial court relied upon the facts that Mr. McGlenn (1) was sweating heavily and breathing hard; (2) appeared disoriented; (3) was non-compliant to the point of pulling out of his shirt; (4) was at one point incoherent; (5) was slurring his speech; (6) did not seem to understand what was going on, particularly at the beginning of the encounter; (7) had behaved in ...

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