MA: No objective basis for officers to believe exigency occurred at premises of 911 call to support a warrantless entry

Officers had no objective basis to believe that there was an exigency for entry into defendant’s premises. There was a 911 call but nothing at the scene, including talking to people there, supported any inference that anything was wrong there. The grant of the motion to suppress is affirmed. Commonwealth v. Arias, 2019 Mass. LEXIS 169 (Mar. 15, 2019):

When the officers arrived at the scene in response to the 911 call, they saw and heard no signs of disturbance, and detected no signs of forced entry. To the contrary, they observed that the doors to the building, and to unit 5A, were closed and intact. Moreover, when Simard spoke with the 911 caller, she said that the men had entered the building “easily,” because they likely had a key. The officers interviewed residents of unit 7A and learned that the residents, too, had seen and heard nothing suspicious or out of the ordinary. No one else informed the officers of any commotion, noises, or sounds coming from unit 5A. As the motion judge found, the officers had no knowledge of any residents or victims inside unit 5A, and the only residents of any unit the officers knew were present were the unharmed residents of unit 7A.

The fact that Diaz was observed at the back of the building does not transform the situation into an emergency. There was no indication that he was injured, in need of emergency assistance, armed, or about to harm others, or that he had harmed others.

Regardless of whether the officers had sincerely held beliefs as to the existence of an armed home invasion or hostage situation, their subjective beliefs at the scene cannot justify a search under the emergency aid exception. See, e.g., Stuart, 547 U.S. at 404; Entwistle, 463 Mass. at 214. The totality of the circumstances at the time of entry here did not establish a reasonable basis to believe that an emergency existed in unit 5A. See Tuschall, 476 Mass. at 585-587. Therefore, the warrantless search was not justified under the emergency aid exception.

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