E.D.Pa.: Citizen informant pointing out def face-to-face presumptively reliable

A citizen informant pointing out defendant as having a gun, right in front of him, is entitled to presumptive credibility because she exposed her knowledge to defendant and risked retaliation. United States v. Slone, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 38515 (E.D. Pa. March 17, 2017).

Officers Hanuscin and Metzger had more reason to credit this woman’s “tip” than the officers expressed in Valentine because the thin African American woman pointed directly to Mr. Slone when telling the officers he had a gun. Under the totality of the circumstances, the woman is exposed to possible retaliation from Mr. Slone because she identifies him to the officers in front of him, the officers could quickly confirm her tip because they could see Mr. Slone, and the officers could locate her if she lied. We agree with our Court of Appeals “given the large number of potential crimes and dangers posed by an armed criminal, we think that if the police officers had done nothing and continued on their way after receiving the informant’s tip, the officers would have been remiss.”

Our Court of Appeals acknowledged “even if police officers have a reliable tip saying that someone is carrying a gun, that information alone will not provide enough evidence to support a Terry stop.” The defendant’s behavior and context must be taken in account to confirm reasonable suspicion. In Valentine, the defendant and his companions began walking away when they saw the police cruiser. “In summary, we conclude that the officers had reasonable suspicion after they received a face-to-face tip, were in a high crime area at 1:00 A.M., and saw [defendant] and his two companions walk away as they noticed the police car.”

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