WV: Domestic disturbance call with injuries justified warrantless entry

Police responded to a domestic disturbance call and found defendant’s wife injured and distraught. They entered the house without an arrest or search warrant to find defendant, and he was in bed. They asked him to show his hands to be sure he wasn’t armed, and he had blood on his hands. He was handcuffed. The entry was justified by exigency. State v. Rexrode, 2020 W. Va. LEXIS 356 (June 8, 2020):

Viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the prosecution, and considering the totality of the circumstances, we conclude that the officers’ actions were objectively reasonable. They were confronted with circumstances demonstrating that Mrs. Rexrode, an occupant in the home, was seriously injured and imminently threatened. Thus, it was reasonable for officers to enter without a warrant, to assure the safety of Mrs. Rexrode and secure the scene for their own safety; indeed, the officers would have been derelict in their duty had they failed to take these actions. It would be patently unreasonable, and contrary to public safety, for officers to unquestioningly accept Mrs. Rexrode’s initial denials and leave the scene with her wholly unprotected in the home from a potential abuser. “The role of a peace officer includes preventing violence and restoring order, not simply rendering first aid to casualties[.]” Brigham City, 547 U.S. at 406.

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