Commonwealth v. G.M.
Philadelphia Police were dispersing a crowd on the 3000 block of Lee Street when they allegedly observed G.M. in a legally parked running car allegedly “passed out” behind the wheel. An officer claimed that she went to check on him, and that when she shined her flashlight in the car he woke cop and told her that he was waiting for his girlfriend to pick him up from the location. GM stated that the car was his and that he didn’t have a driver’s license. During this exchange, the officer claimed that she smelled marijuana and saw burnt marijuana cigarettes in the ashtray. As police continued to talk to him he allegedly began to shake and sweat profusely, and when asked if there was anything illegal in the car G.M. stated he “wasn’t sure.” As G.M. was taken out of the car he began to “continuously place his hands inside the vehicle and in his pockets despite being told not to do so by police.” The officers frisked the car and found a loaded firearm under the front passenger seat, which was later tested and found to have G.M.’s DNA on it. The defense filed a motion to suppress arguing that police subjected G.M. to an illegal investigative detention and did not have reasonable suspicion to believe that he was armed and dangerous. At the motion hearing, on cross-examination the defense established that despite the assertions made by the officers that they were merely concerned with G.M.’s well-being, not once did they ask him whether he was experiencing a medical condition or otherwise distressed. In addition, the defense presented body camera footage that shockingly showed another officer searching an unattended car in front of G.M.’s car without a warrant and for no apparent reason. There were also instances on body camera where the police appeared to display racial bias towards G.M. In her ruling suppressing the firearm from evidence, the Judge stated that what she heard at the motion was one of the most “incredible” cases she’s ever heard. The Commonwealth immediately withdrew prosecution of the case.