Court Upholds Emergency Search of Apartment


apartment

Case: People v. Reynolds (Unpublished Opinion)

Search & seizure; People v. Hellstrom; People v. Jordan; Motion to suppress evidence; Constitutionality of an initial warrantless search; The emergency-aid exception to the warrant requirement; People v. Lemons; People v. Davis; Consent exception; People v. Mahdi

Summary:

Holding that the officers’ initial warrantless search of the apartment was constitutional under both the emergency-aid and consent exceptions to the warrant requirement, the court concluded that the trial court properly denied defendant’s motion to suppress the weapons found in the apartment. He was convicted of assault with intent to do great bodily harm less than murder and felony-firearm for the non-fatal shooting of his ex-girlfriend’s (B) new boyfriend. After the relationship between defendant and B ended, they continued to share an apartment together with B’s two-year-old child. The shooting occurred at the apartment complex. B told police that her child “was alone in the apartment. As the trial court recognized, the officers were responding to an active-shooter call and the main suspects did not have any firearms on them. Thus, a reasonable concern existed that the child was in reach of a firearm.” Further, it was unclear at this point in the police investigation that the perpetrator had been secured. Thus, “a reasonable concern existed that an active shooter could have been in the apartment with the child. The officers announced their presence at the apartment, but the child did not give any response. The child’s failure to respond created a reasonable belief that the child was in need of immediate assistance.” The court agreed with the trial court that the emergency-aid exception authorized the initial search. As to the consent exception, it rejected defendant’s argument that B lacked the authority to authorize a search of the apartment. The record confirmed that he and B shared the apartment, which was B’s primary residence. Her “control over the apartment granted her the authority to authorize the search.” During the initial search, the officers located the child and “noticed the weapons in plain view on the floor of a bedroom.” Given that there was “no constitutional infirmity” as to the initial warrantless search, defendant’s claim that the subsequent, warranted search (when the weapons were seized) “was ‘tainted’ by the illegality of the first search” had no merit. Affirmed.

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