D.Conn.: Protective weapons search of nightstand for a weapon invalid where def removed from house in handcuffs

The court does not believe an officer who claimed to have seen crack cocaine in a black opaque drawstring bag that was closed in the first search of his person. The court also does not believe that a much later protective sweep for weapons of a night stand was warranted since defendant was already handcuffed and out of the house. Removing a safe from defendant’s house without a warrant also was unjustified. The government fails in its burden of proof that inevitable discovery applied. The search of the safe was flagrantly bad and it is suppressed. United States v. Robertson, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 33290 (D. Conn. March 8, 2017). As to the protective weapons search:

I found Officer Zelinski not to be a credible witness in large part. I do not credit his explanation for why he looked in the drawer. I believe that he was looking for narcotics when he opened the drawer and that he did not look inside the drawer to protect himself or others from weapons. Robertson was already well-secured in handcuffs, having been forcibly yanked out of the apartment for this very purpose. With numerous other agents around and no apparent legitimate reason for Robertson even to have been brought back into the apartment after having been taken into the hallway, Officer Zelinski had no credible safety concern to justify his opening of the table drawer.

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