D.Mass.: Possibility of domestic shooting justified entry

The entry into the house here was with exigent circumstances. The information collected at the scene created a reasonable possibility that there had been a shooting during a domestic dispute, and the police went in to check on it. Inside, they found marijuana plants which led to this forfeiture action. United States v. 5 Anchor Drive, Sandwich, Massachusetts, 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 13610 (D. Mass. February 1, 2011)*:

In this case, the circumstances demanded immediate action that rendered reasonable the warrantless search of the house at 5 Anchor Drive. The police had received two reports of gunshots and they learned that the owner of the house, Tracy Harsh, held a firearm license. Despite diligent efforts, they were unable to contact her. Then Baker, who claimed to be the owner and sole occupant, arrived with two friends and told a suspect story about an earlier appearance of two women in need of a telephone and a man waving a gun. He also gave an unlikely explanation as to Harsh’s whereabouts which raised the possibility of a serious domestic dispute. Finally, one of the friends admitted to having two guns in his truck. Given this scenario, Sergeant Dwyer was fully justified in entering the house to ascertain that no one had been shot and lay injured inside the home. The officers acted promptly, after appropriate deliberation, when they entered the home minutes after their alarming interaction with Baker and his two friends. Their search of all areas of the home in which a person might be located, including the two plywood rooms, was appropriate in scope.

The court finds the officer credible that defendant consented although he might have been in handcuffs at the time of consent. The court finds incredible the claim that he was beaten on the side of the road before the consent. United States v. Martinez, 771 F. Supp. 2d 378 (E.D. Pa. 2011).*

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