Commonwealth v. T.M.
Philadelphia Housing Authority officers were in their marked patrol car when they allegedly observed T.M. run a stop sign near a housing authority property. After stopping the car, the officers claim that T.M got out of the driver’s seat and attempted to walk away from them.
After drawing their guns on him, they ordered him back into the car. During their subsequent investigation, one of the officers claimed they observed narcotics in plain view, and recovered a baggie containing 150 packets of heroin. While searching the rest of the car, the officers also claimed to have recovered a gun from underneath the driver’s seat.
The defense filed a motion to suppress evidence, arguing that the Housing Authority officers lacked the power to initiate the traffic stop due to the fact that the stop occurred adjacent to, not in or upon the grounds of the Authority, as is required by law. The defense also argued that the officers were not credible, citing major discrepancies in their police reports and their testimony.
A Common Pleas court judge agreed with the defense, and doubted the officers’ veracity of this Philadelphia drug offense case, saying that the drugs were found in “plain view,” and also accepted the defense’s legal arguments. The guns and drugs were suppressed from evidence, and the District Attorney was forced to withdraw all charges for drug or gun offenses. The case was dismissed.