to knock and announce. Therefore, since the police officers failed to knock and announce their purpose before entering the second-floor apartment at 417 Thieriot Avenue, the evidence found during that search should be suppressed and a new trial ordered.
No doubt the police officers involved in this incident will view the results reached in this opinion as ludicrous and totally naive in second-guessing the on-the-spot decisions police officers are required to make in the difficult and often dangerous business of bringing narcotics traffickers to justice. Indeed, I am convinced that the police officers committed perjury here because they lacked confidence in the court's ability to reach a just result if the true facts were presented. Unfortunately, their lack of faith in the judicial process has deprived the Court of the appropriate record on which to judge the reasonableness of their conduct on the morning of January 9, 1991.
More important, however, those charged with enforcing our laws must act in full compliance with the Constitution and laws of the United States whether they agree with them or not. The balance between the need for efficient law enforcement and "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects. . ." will not always be struck in a manner that will fully satisfy those "engaged in the often competitive enterprise of ferreting out crime." Johnson v. United States, 333 U.S. 10, 14, 68 S. Ct. 367, 369, 92 L. Ed. 436 (1948). But the protection of our constitutional liberties must rest on a more detached and studied judgment. As the Supreme Court observed in Johnson:
The right of officers to thrust themselves into a home is also a grave concern, not only to the individual but to a society which chooses to dwell in reasonable security and freedom from surveillance. When the right of privacy must reasonably yield to the right of search is, as a rule, to be decided by a judicial officer, not by a policeman or Government enforcement agent.
The facts of this case present a good example of the competing interests that must be weighed in striking the constitutional balance between the legitimate concerns of the police and the Fourth Amendment rights of our citizens. On the morning of January 9, 1991 police officers made a shambles of the building that Police Officer Valdespino had purchased, in part as an investment and in part to be his home. They smashed in his doors, knocked a toilet off its base, and broke into an apartment for which they had no search warrant where they drilled into and destroyed a safe that Officer Valdespino had placed in that apartment so that he could safeguard the gun his job required him to possess. They left without making any repairs and with no notice to Officer Valdespino of what had occurred. This devastation was carried out in order to obtain, perhaps, some additional evidence against Tito Sanchez against whom the police already had enough evidence to procure a conviction.
No doubt the police officers involved believed in good faith that their actions were in society's best interests. Fortunately, our Constitution places that judgment in the courts and not the police. Law enforcement officers must learn to accept that fact and should never be permitted to think that the courts will allow them to avoid full compliance with the mandates of the constitution by the simple expedient of lying about their actions.
As noted above, the Second Circuit has entered an order directing me to enter judgment on the jury's verdict. Thus, even though I believe a new trial should be ordered because of both the knowing use of perjured testimony and the illegal search and seizure at 417 Thieriot Avenue, I am compelled to deny defendant's motion and enter judgment. Carluin Sanchez is to be produced before me for sentencing on February 25, 1993 at 3:15 p.m.
Dated: February 10, 1993
JOHN S. MARTIN, JR., U.S.D.J.