CO: Def was accused of pointing a laser-sighted rifle from his house at a neighbor; police arrived and exigency justified the entry

The entry into defendant’s home was with exigent circumstances. A neighbor of defendant repeatedly called the police to say that defendant was repeatedly pointing a laser-sighted rifle at him from the house. Police came to the house to inquire. Defendant concedes there was probable cause. At the house, they talked to a person on the porch, but they hadn’t determined whether he was the perpetrator and no gun had been found. They didn’t have to rely on the denials of the person on the porch until the gun and the perpetrator were found. People v. Pappan, 2018 CO 71, 2018 Colo. LEXIS 746 (Sep. 10, 2018):

[*18] Pappan nevertheless argues that the officers’ concern for their safety did not justify clearing his residence for other occupants because they had already concluded he was the individual who reportedly pointed a laser-sight rifle at the 911 caller. However, the trial court did not make a finding as to when, in relation to the search conducted, the officers identified the male detained on the porch as the suspect. Further, the dispatch CD, which contains the 19 audio-recorded communications dispatch had with the 911 caller and the responding officers, suggests that the officers identified the male on the porch as the suspect after they cleared the house and learned that there were no other male occupants present. Immediately after the officers informed dispatch that they were going to clear Pappan’s residence for other occupants, there were no communications with dispatch for a handful of minutes. This radio silence is consistent with the officers clearing Pappan’s residence for other occupants. During the next radio communication by the officers who cleared the house, they informed dispatch for the first time that the male on the porch, Pappan, was the suspect who allegedly pointed a laser-sight rifle at the 911 caller.

[*19] In any event, Pappan’s contention is inconsequential. Even if the officers had known before the search that the male detained on the porch was the suspect, their actions still would have been justified because there could have been other parties in the residence and the laser-sight rifle had not yet been located. The threat would have been just as real, and the officers’ concern for their lives or safety would have been just as objectively reasonable. Thus, contrary to Pappan’s assertion, application of the exigent circumstances exception in this case does not hinge on whether the officers identified the male on the porch as the suspect before or after conducting their search.

[*20] We recognize that Pappan and the female indicated to the officers before the search that there were no other occupants in the house. But the officers were not required to rely on that information or to accept it as accurate. Both Pappan and the female had refused to heed the officers’ commands and had been less than cooperative. Additionally, the possibility existed that Pappan, as a male, would later be identified as the suspect. Moreover, as Officer De La Fuente testified, she typically assumes that people are lying to her because it is not uncommon for people to lie to police officers.

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