Submitted May 2, 2019
from the Superior Court of the District of Columbia
(CDC-15416-16) Hon. Gregory B. Jackson, Trial Judge
A. Barrella was on the brief for appellant.
A. Racine, Attorney General for the District of Columbia,
Loren L. AliKhan, Solicitor General, Rosalyn Calbert Groce,
Deputy Solicitor General, and John W. Donovan, Assistant
Attorney General, were on the brief for appellee.
Fisher and Easterly, Associate Judges, and Nebeker, Senior
NEBEKER, SENIOR JUDGE
Darrell Andrews challenges his convictions of possession of
an unregistered firearm and unlawful possession of
ammunition. He argues that the trial court erred in denying
his motion to suppress evidence that was obtained pursuant to
a warrant to search his home. Because the warrant was issued
without probable cause and the police's reliance on the
warrant was objectively unreasonable, the trial court should
have suppressed the firearm and ammunition found at
appellant's home. Despite the arguments of the District
of Columbia Office of the Attorney General to the contrary,
we reverse both the order and the convictions.
brief accurately states the facts essential to our decision:
A Superior Court judge issued a warrant to search the
premises at 3518 6th Street, S.E., #6, in Washington, D.C.,
for evidence of illegal firearms. The warrant was issued on
the basis of an application that included an affidavit from
Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) Officer Tony Covington.
The officer-affiant stated that he "received information
in reference to a YouTube video," depicting "multiple
individual [sic] displaying handguns" that appeared
"to be operable." The officer-affiant recognized
the location of the video as a parking lot at the 3500 block
of 6th Street, S.E. He also identified one of the individuals
in the video as Andre Becton.
Your affiant has checked multiple databases and was able to
determine 3815 6th St #6 SE [sic]. A firearms registration
check revealed Andre Becton does not have a current
registration for a firearm at 3815 6th St #6 SE. Your affiant
has received corroborating information from several sworn MPD
members as to the identification and residence of Andre
officer-affiant concluded that he knew from his training and
experience that people with illegal firearms tend to store
them and related items at their homes, and requested a search
warrant to search the premises at "3815 6th St #6
Southeast, Washington, D.C." As appellant notes, the
address in the affidavit (3815 6th Street) did not match
appellant's address listed in the warrant (3518 6th
Street) and does not exist in the District; the affidavit
fails to directly state that Andre Becton was associated with
the stated address; and it only vaguely refers to
"multiple databases" and "corroborating
information from several sworn MPD members" to justify
the request to search the stated address.
police executed the search warrant at 3518 6th Street and
found a semiautomatic .45 caliber handgun loaded with one
round of ammunition, as well as mail in appellant's name.
The police arrested appellant, who was in the apartment at
the time of the search. Appellant was then charged by
information with possession of an unregistered firearm, in
violation of D.C. Code § 7-2502.01(a) (2012 Repl.), and
unlawful possession of ammunition, in violation of D.C. Code
§ 7-2506.01 (2012 Repl.).
November 2016, appellant moved to suppress evidence obtained
from the search, arguing that the warrant's supporting
affidavit failed to demonstrate probable cause that evidence
of illegal firearms would be found at his address. At a
hearing on April 26, 2017, the trial court denied
appellant's motion. A stipulated trial immediately
followed, where the trial judge found appellant guilty of
both charges, and sentenced him to a ...