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Evidence suppression in gun case affirmed

Police search was illegal

By: Bennett Loudon//January 19, 2023

Evidence suppression in gun case affirmed

Police search was illegal

By: Bennett Loudon//January 19, 2023//

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A state appeals court has affirmed a lower court ruling to suppress evidence in a gun case because of an illegal police search.

Defendant Marcus Miller was arrested in January 2021 after police found two guns on him during a pat-down search.

But state Supreme Court Justice John F. Zoll, in Queens County, in October 2021 granted a defense motion to suppress the physical evidence statements Miller made to police.

The prosecutor appealed and, in a decision released Wednesday, the Appellate Division of state Supreme Court, Second Department, upheld Zoll’s ruling.

Just before 10 p.m. on Jan. 23, 2021, a police officer tried to pull over a car for multiple traffic violations, including parking in a crosswalk, failing to stop at a stop sign, and failing to signal while making a turn.

The officer called for backup when the vehicle initially would not pull over. When the vehicle finally stopped, Miller, a passenger in the back seat, got out of the car and started to run away.

An officer who was in a patrol car that responded to the backup call, but who did not know why the vehicle was being pulled over, tackled Miller, and handcuffed him.

After handcuffing Miller, the officer did a pat-down search of Miller and found two handguns. Miller waived his Miranda rights and spoke to police about the incident.

After Miller’s arrest and questioning, Miller’s attorney filed a motion to suppress the guns seized during the pat-down search and his subsequent statements to police.

The Second Department panel found that the police had no legal basis for the search of Miller.

“There is no reasonable suspicion that the defendant was involved in criminal activity solely because he attempted to flee from the backseat of a vehicle that had been stopped for a traffic violation,” the court wrote.

“To permit the People to use the evidence seized pursuant to an illegal detention where an officer did not have sufficient information at the time to determine if there was reasonable suspicion to detain a suspect would frustrate the exclusionary rule,” the court wrote.

“The Supreme Court properly granted the defendant’s motion to suppress physical evidence and his statements to law enforcement officials,” the court wrote.

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