The opinion of the court was delivered by: HECKMAN
This matter was referred to the undersigned by the Hon. Richard J. Arcara, to hear and report, in accordance with 28 U.S.C. § 636(b). Defendant has moved to suppress evidence seized as a result of searches conducted on March 20 and March 22, 1996. An evidentiary hearing was held before the undersigned on July 17, 1996, and oral argument on the suppression motion was heard by the undersigned on September 25, 1996. For the following reasons, defendant's motion should be denied.
Buffalo Police Department Detective Daniel Rinaldo and Chautauqua County Sheriff's Investigator Michael Johnson were the only witnesses who testified at the suppression hearing.
1. The Testimony of Detective Rinaldo.
Detective Rinaldo testified that he has been a Buffalo police officer for 13 years and is currently assigned to the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) Task Force. On March 20, 1996, at approximately 12:30 p.m., Rinaldo received a telephone call at the Buffalo DEA office. The call was from a woman who wished to remain anonymous. She informed Rinaldo that she had information about an individual who was currently in possession of several ("about seven") kilograms of cocaine. Rinaldo made arrangements to meet with the woman, referred to herein as the "confidential informant," later that afternoon at a residential address in the City of Buffalo (Tr. 51-52).
At approximately 3:30 p.m. that afternoon, Rinaldo and DEA Special Agent Gene Nanna drove to the prearranged location. At Rinaldo's direction, there were several other officers in the vicinity. Eventually the confidential informant came out of the residence and got into Rinaldo's vehicle. She told Rinaldo and Nanna that she was involved in a personal relationship with an individual named David Campbell, who was a "multikilo distributor of cocaine" (Tr. 54). She had recently caught him with another woman (Tr. 55).
The confidential informant gave Rinaldo and Nana a detailed description of the individual and his activities. She told them that Campbell was a Jamaican national with long dreadlocks, 5' 8" to 5' 10" tall, weighing about 160 lbs. He owned a late 1980's model Buick. He had recently returned from New York City where he had purchased seven kilograms of cocaine. He was currently storing the cocaine at a residence on Meyers Street. On the previous day she had assisted Campbell while he "cooked up" 12 ounces of cocaine at the Meyers Street residence. She also informed the officers that Campbell was currently on parole for a felony narcotics conviction in New York State, and that his brother owned a store named "Dr. Bird's" on East Delevan Street in Buffalo (Tr. 53-56).
The confidential informant told the officers that Campbell currently had possession of three firearms, one of which was a handgun that he carried with him at all times. She advised the officers that Campbell would not hesitate to use the handgun on her for providing information to the police. She also told them that Campbell would not hesitate to use the weapon on a police officer who stopped him on the street. She also provided addresses for three "stash houses" where Campbell allegedly stored cocaine (Tr. 57-58).
The confidential informant also provided the officers with a detailed description of locations inside the Meyers Street residence where drugs and weapons were kept (Tr. 62-63). She provided Agent Nanna with a telephone number for the residence. Nanna dialed the number on a cellular telephone and handed the phone to the confidential informant. She had a conversation with an individual in the residence. When the conversation ended she told the officers that it was "Dave." He was home, and he was "busy" (Tr. 63-65).
Rinaldo then took the confidential informant to a schoolyard at Fillmore Avenue and Best Street where she got into a car occupied by other officers (Tr. 91). Rinaldo testified that he instructed the other officers to maintain surveillance of the Meyers Street address while he and Nanna made arrangements with the U.S. Attorney's office to obtain search warrants (Tr. 65-66).
At approximately 4:42 p.m., Rinaldo received a radio call from one of the officers on surveillance advising that an individual had been observed leaving the Meyers Street residence and entering the Buick that was parked in the driveway. The Buick backed out of the driveway and proceeded southbound on Meyers Street. Rinaldo instructed the surveilling officers to follow the vehicle closely until a location could be found where the vehicle could be pulled over safely and detained. He and Nanna left the schoolyard and joined a "caravan" of other officers in pursuit of the vehicle (Tr. 66-67).
Rinaldo testified that he received a radio call from Task Force Agent Thomas Gerace advising that he had pulled alongside the vehicle and observed that it was being driven by an individual who met the description provided by the confidential informant. Rinaldo observed Gerace pull his vehicle in front of the Buick. The Buick then pulled over to the curb at 792 Genesee Street. Gerace's vehicle was in front of the Buick, and a vehicle driven by Investigator Johnson stopped alongside the Buick. Rinaldo observed the officers leave their vehicles and approach the Buick (Tr. 67-69)
2. The Testimony of Investigator Johnson.
Investigator Johnson testified that on March 20, 1996, he was maintaining surveillance of the Meyers Street area from his vehicle positioned on Best Street. At approximately 4:40 p.m., Johnson observed the Buick pull out of the driveway onto Meyers Street and proceed south toward Genesee Street. Johnson followed the vehicle as it proceeded down Meyers Street and turned right onto Genesee. As he was following the Buick, Johnson received the information transmitted by Agent Gerace that the driver matched the description received from the confidential informant. Johnson observed the Buick pull over to the curb in front of a fish market at 792 Genesee Street. Johnson pulled his vehicle alongside the Buick. He observed defendant in the driver's seat, and a woman in the passenger's seat (Tr. 8-11).
Johnson testified that once defendant was placed on the ground, Agent Gerace grabbed defendant's right arm and pulled it out from under his stomach. Gerace then yelled "gun" several times loudly. The officers handcuffed defendant behind his back, and Gerace removed a loaded Taurus nine-millimeter semiautomatic pistol from the front of defendant's pants. Johnson then stood defendant up against the back of the Buick and frisked him. Johnson found four clear plastic bags containing what he identified as crack cocaine in defendant's left breast shirt pocket. Defendant was then placed under arrest (Tr. 15-19).
On March 20, 1996, following defendant's arrest, a search warrant was obtained for the Buick and the Meyers Street residence. Upon execution of the warrants, agents found a black knapsack in the rear seat of the Buick containing quantities of a white substance that field-tested positive for cocaine. Also found inside the knapsack were a small quantity of marijuana and an electronic digital scale (see Item 1). The search of the Meyers Street residence revealed a quantity of ...