E.D.La.: Drive-by shooting led to emergency ping order which led to valid protective sweep

“Defendant lacks standing to challenge the sweep of Ms. Wells’ home. At best, Defendant was a frequent visitor to the home where he babysat children and worked on cars in the yard. Those limited connections to the home are insufficient to confer standing on Defendant.” On the merits, officers had an emergency ping order to locate defendant as a suspect in a drive-by shooting, and then a protective sweep was justified. Also, defendant’s girlfriend consented to the entry. United States v. Hanwood, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 201280 (E.D. La. Oct. 26, 2017), adopted, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 200946 (W.D. La. Dec. 5, 2017):

When the federal agents obtained the emergency ping authorization in an attempt to locate Defendant, they were acting quickly to attempt to prevent another drive-by shooting that was expected to occur later that day. The officers had already intercepted Title III wiretaps confirming Defendant’s involvement in a prior drive-by shooting, and the agents had every reason to believe that Defendant would follow up on his threat to conduct another shooting in a few hours. The emergency ping authorization obtained by the federal agents placed Defendant’s phone (and, therefore, Defendant) at Ms. Wells’ residence.

The protective sweep doctrine allows government agents, without a warrant, to conduct a quick and limited search of premises for the safety of the agents and others present at the scene. United States v. Brown, 230 F.Supp.3d 513, 525-527 (M.D. La. 2017) citing United States v. Mendez, 431 F.3d 420, 428 (5th Cir. 2005). A protective sweep of a house is legal if (1) the government agents have a legitimate law enforcement purpose for being in the house, (2) the sweep is supported by a reasonable, articulable suspicion that the area to be swept harbors an individual posing a danger to those on the scene, (3) the sweep is no more than a cursory inspection of those spaces where a person may be found, and (4) the sweep lasts no longer than is necessary to dispel the reasonable suspicion of danger and lasts no longer than the police are justified in remaining on the premises. Id.

Each of those factors support the police’s entry into the residence to look for Defendant. The police were acting on a tip from the DEA that Defendant had participated in a drive-by shooting and was planning to commit another drive-by shooting later that day. The ping of Defendant’s phone showed that he was likely at the residence. The police looked for Defendant in rooms, closets, and under beds. The sweep ended when Defendant was not found in the residence.

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