D.P.R.: Officer opened def’s door without PC or consent; suppressed

Officer’s opening defendant’s door without probable cause or voluntary consent requires suppression of weapons found inside. (The USMJ conducted a hearing and the USDJ had doubts about some facts and conducted another one.) United States v. Figueroa-Figueroa, 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 113981 (D. P.R. July 9, 2019)*:

At issue is whether PRPD Bari’s decision of opening the door of the defendant’s residence without consent and then, identifying a gun in the defendant’s waistband is subject to the exclusionary rule. The Court finds that it does and briefly explains. PRPD Bari is a police officer with 20 years of experience, who prior to working at the Office of Intelligence Section of the Local Police Department worked in the City of Bayamon Stolen Vehicles Unit. … The Fourth Amendment protection is a subject that is widely known as it deals with a fundamental right that every person is entitled to. It is very difficult for the Court to believe that PRPD Bari was unbeknown as to the fact that opening the door of a private property without the defendant’s consent and without probable cause would constitute a Fourth Amendment violation. The Government, in fact, recognizes that PRPD Bari did not have probable cause to arrest the defendant until he opened the door to the defendant’s property and thereafter, saw the firearm for the first time. Thus, “[t]he government [would be] obliged to justify the arrest by the search and at the same time to justify the search by the arrest. This will not do.” Johnson v. United States, 333 U.S. 10, 68 S. Ct. 367, 370, 92 L. Ed. 436 (1948).

Therefore, the Court finds that the PRPD Bari was grossly negligent when intervening with the defendant, and most critical, by opening the door of the defendant’s residence without his consent, without a search warrant and without observing a weapon prior thereto that would establish probable cause to enter the property. The Court further notes that PRPD Bari’s actions were in clear violation of the defendant’s Fourth Amendment right. This is exactly the type of conduct that is considered unlawful police conduct and must be discouraged.

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