Commonwealth v. R.T.
Police were on routine patrol when they observed a Chevy Tahoe parked illegally on the sidewalk at 2700 N. Hope Street. They got out of the car to “investigate” claimed to have observed R.T. laying in the back seat holding a burning marijuana cigar. They then allegedly asked him for his license and paperwork for the car when he refused to cooperate. R.T. was removed from the car and “frisked” the inside of the car for weapons. During the frisk, an officer observed that the center console area had an additional voided compartment, which they believed signaled the strong likelihood of a firearm being inside. They went into the voided area and recovered a semi automatic handgun after obtaining a search warrant. The defense filed a motion to suppress, arguing that although the police got a search warrant, the warrant was invalid because the police did not have reasonable suspicion to believe R.T. was armed and dangerous thus negating the officers’ ability to perform the “frisk” of the vehicle. A judge agreed that the search warrant was based on the officers’ illegal entry into the car and ordered the gun suppressed from evidence. As a result, the DA was forced to withdraw all charges.