MA: Trial judge’s omission of significant facts made finding of no exigency error

The trial judge’s finding that there were no exigent circumstances is reversed. Her findings of fact omitted serious facts in support of exigency, and thus was clearly erroneous. Commonwealth v. Arias, 2017 Mass. App. LEXIS 148 (Nov. 9, 2017):

Moreover, in this case, there was significantly more evidence than that mentioned by the judge, that supplied objectively reasonable grounds for the police to believe that a home invasion was in progress, or that some type of safety risk was posed to potential victims inside the apartment. The urgent nature of the officers’ concern was demonstrated by the 911 caller’s report that one of the three men “rack[ed]” (i.e., loaded) a “semiautomatic” weapon outside of a multifamily residential building before entering, the caller’s knowledge and fear of the “rash” of recent armed robberies (home invasions) in the area, and the officers’ observation of the defendant, who matched the caller’s description, as well as the defendant’s “shocked” expression and hasty reentry into the building, locking the door behind him after the police shouted, “Lawrence Police” and “[s]how me your hands.” In these circumstances, the defendant’s flight was appropriately considered to be inculpatory by the police, and the Lawrence police department’s recent investigation of a “rash” of home invasions within the same “area” and “time frame” as the 911 call further provided objectively reasonable grounds for the police to believe that a home invasion was in progress. See Commonwealth v. Samuel, 80 Mass. App. Ct. 560, 562-563, 954 N.E.2d 557 (2011). See also Entwistle, 463 Mass. at 214, quoting from Michigan v. Fisher, 558 U.S. 45, 49, 130 S. Ct. 546, 175 L. Ed. 2d 410 (2009) (“‘Officers do not need ironclad proof of “a likely serious, life-threatening” injury to invoke the emergency aid exception.’ … It suffices that there are objectively reasonable grounds to believe that emergency aid might be needed”). Cf. Commonwealth v. Whitehead, 85 Mass. App. Ct. 134, 141, 6 N.E.3d 557 (2014).

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