CA11: Recent murder-robbery made entry into defendant’s house “sufficiently exigent”

The police knew that defendant had “recently” committed an armed robbery and murder, and that he was in his house and armed. They determined to enter and arrest him, and they did. The protective sweep and consent after that was valid. [The words “hot pursuit” are not used; just “sufficiently exigent”] United States v. Joseph, 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 11707 (11th Cir. June 30, 2017):

In addition, the officers knew that Joseph was inside the house. First, a person whom the officers saw leaving the house told the officers that Joseph was inside. When the officers knocked on the front door, the person who answered identified himself as the homeowner, confirmed that Joseph was inside, and gave the officers permission to enter the home. While speaking with the homeowner, the officers saw Joseph through the open front door. After Joseph made eye contact with the officers, he moved quickly into a bedroom. At that point, the officers entered the home, entered Joseph’s rented bedroom, and placed Joseph under arrest.

The officers believed reasonably that Joseph was armed and had been involved recently in violent crimes, and Joseph knew the officers were at the house; so a delay in arresting Joseph would have increased the risk to the officers and to the public, had Joseph attempted to avoid arrest by force. See Standridge, 810 F.2d at 1037 (concluding exigent circumstances existed to justify a warrantless arrest in part because it was safer to arrest the suspect immediately and by surprise instead of waiting for a warrant and “risk a gun battle erupting” in a public area).

Because the officers entered lawfully Joseph’s bedroom to arrest him, the officers were entitled to perform a protective sweep of the room incident to arrest. See id. (“A search incident to arrest is always allowed of the suspect’s person and the immediate area from which the suspect can grab a weapon or destroy evidence.”). Nothing evidences — and Joseph does not contend — that the officers exceeded the scope of a lawful protective sweep. Thus, the evidence — including an AK-47, ammunition, and drugs — discovered in plain view during the protective sweep was lawfully seized.

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