Feb 22

Commonwealth v. A.B.

Commonwealth v. A.B.

14th district officers conducted a car stop of a car being driven by A.B. on E. Collum Street in Germantown. Officers claim that as they approached the car they saw A.B. making a “leaning movement” and heard a compartment being shut. According to police, A.B. was breathing heavily and acting nervously, and that A.B. denied making a movement or closing any compartments. Based on those observations, and because the stop occurred in a “high crime area” police removed A.B. from the car to conduct a “safety frisk” of his vehicle, which is a limited search of areas accessible to the driver and does not require a warrant.During this frisk, the officer claimed that he saw a dislodged panel by the gear shifter and cup holder. When he lifted it up slightly he could see narcotics and a firearm. A.B. was arrested. The defense filed a motion to suppress alleging the police violated A.B.s right to be free of unreasonable searches. The defense obtained body worn cameras for the officers. The defense showed the judge that although you could hear the officers footsteps on their approach to the car, there was no “noise” coming from the car and neither officer said anything to one another about the movements or the noise. The defense also generated a still-shot of the gear shifter and cup holder area, which demonstrated that the area was not in fact dislodged. A judge found the officers not to be credible, granted the defense motion, and all charges were dismissed.

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