Commonwealth v. O.J.
Three officers were patrolling in an unmarked car in Germantown when they allegedly observed O.J. standing with a group of five other males on a corner while not wearing masks in violation of city ordinance. Officers claimed they saw a bulge in O.J.’s pocket that looked like a firearm and they knew him to be a gang member with prior convictions that make him ineligible to possess a gun. The officers claimed that when they got out of the car to approach the males, O.J. fled without provocation and during a foot pursuit, police recovered a gun they said he discarded. The defense filed a motion to suppress evidence the gun on the basis that O.J. was subject to an unconstitutional stop and that the discarding of the gun was “forced abandonment.” The defense argument was based on the credibility of the officers. At the motion hearing, the judge was incredulous when on cross examination the officer claimed to have gotten out of his car, went up to a known gang member with a gun, and simply asked “if he was ok” rather than telling him to stop or drawing his weapon on him. The defense argued the officer testified in this way so that the DA could argue that there was no “stop” of O.J. and that it was a “mere encounter” instead where the police would not need to have reasonable suspicion our probable cause a crime was being committed thus allowing them to pursue O.J. when he allegedly fled. In addition, the defense had the officers bring the recovered gun into the courtroom along with the jacked O.J. was wearing to show that there was no way possible for the officers to have in fact seen a “bulge” that looked like a gun. The judge granted the defense motion to suppress, finding the officers lacked credibility. The DA was forced to withdraw all charges against O.J.