Fourth Amendment – M.D.Ala.: Arrest of co-conspirator outside justified warrantless exigent entry
Arrest of a co-conspirator outside created exigency for warrantless police entry into the house for drugs, after nobody answered the door and the police knew there were people inside. United States v. Romero, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 97055 (M.D. Ala. June 18, 2013):
Second, while “[c]ircumstances are not normally considered exigent where the suspects are unaware of police surveillance,” Tobin, 923 F.2d at 1511, officers had reason to fear that, unless secured, the defendant might learn of the officers’ presence, either through a warning from a lookout or by direct observation, and destroy evidence or flee before the officers could return with a warrant. The officers also were reasonably concerned, under the circumstances presented by this case, that their safety and that of the public would be endangered if the defendant armed himself upon discovering that they were engaging in a stakeout, or somehow reached his vehicle and led them on a high speed chase. “The threat of injury to the neighborhood and arresting officers justified the avoidance of delay involved in obtaining a warrant. Quick action increased the likelihood that no one would be injured.” Burgos, 720 F.2d at 1526; see also United States v. Walton, 323 Fed.Appx. 837, 840 (11th Cir. 2009).
Third, the officers made reasonable efforts to reconcile law enforcement needs with the demands of personal privacy. While they did forcibly enter the trailer, they did so only after commanding the occupant to open the door — commands which he did not heed. …