Philadelphia police on routine patrol observed K.T. driving a car with a defective brake light in what they described as a “high crime area.” Police initiated a stop of his car, and according to the arresting officer he observed a blue pill in plain view that he immediately recognized as oxycodone and a drug offense in Philadelphia.
After making that observation, the officer pulled K.T. out of the car, searched him and allegedly recovered multiple packets of crack cocaine and a jar of codeine syrup. The defense filed a motion to suppress the evidence and argued that the police lacked probable cause to search K.T. because there was no way that the officer could have immediately known that the blue pill was an illegal substance as required by the law.
This was proven on cross examination of the officer, who admitted that he wasn’t sure what the pill was until he picked it up and looked at the markings on it. Due to the fact that the retrieval of the pill was deemed to be an illegal search, all other evidence recovered after that illegality was also suppressed from evidence as “fruit of the poisonous tree.” The Commonwealth was unable to proceed any further on the case with all evidence excluded.