Barry Gene Rhodes, Brooklyn, for defendant.
Charles J. Hynes, District Attorney of Kings County, Brooklyn (Israel Fried of counsel), for plaintiff.
Frank J. Barbaro, J.
Defendant was indicted on various weapons possession offenses after a search or frisk of his person inside the Dean's office of Sheepshead Bay High School uncovered a loaded handgun. Defendant subsequently moved to suppress the handgun and to suppress three statements--one of which was made in response to questioning by the High School's Dean and two of which were made in response to questioning by police and school safety officers. A Mapp/Huntley hearing was held on April 10, 2001, after which this Court granted that portion of defendant's Huntley motion which sought suppression of defendant's statements to the officers, but denied defendant's
motions in all other respects. This opinion explains in more detail the Court's reasons for its April 10 ruling.
Findings of Fact
The only witness to testify at the April 10 hearing was Glenn Coyle, a school safety officer employed by the New York City Police Department and assigned to Sheepshead Bay High School.  Coyle testified that on September 12, 2000, at approximately 1:15 P.M., just after he and a fellow school safety officer, Sergeant Thompson, finished clearing out the school cafeteria, he saw defendant standing in the lobby wearing a grey bandana or headband around his head and a blue bandana around his wrist. According to Coyle, such headgear was prohibited by the Chancellor's rules, which were posted in the school cafeteria and other places, because it is sometimes a sign of gang affiliation. There were no such rules relating to wristbands or bandanas not worn on the head, but Coyle knew from his nine years on the job that such bandanas were also sometimes gang symbols. Accordingly, Coyle approached defendant and asked him to remove both the headgear and the blue bandana. Defendant complied.
Because Coyle did not recognize defendant, the officer asked whether defendant was a student. Defendant replied that he was, but claimed--plausibly, according to Coyle--that he had finished his classes for the day. Coyle then asked to see defendant's " program card" --a form of identification giving a student's name, classes and teachers but not bearing any photograph or description of the student or some other form of identification. In response, defendant stated that he was about to leave, but could not produce a program card. Defendant did not produce any other form of identification and did not give Coyle his name.
Sergeant Thompson then requested that defendant accompany them to the Dean's office, which was located nearby on the same floor, and defendant agreed to do so. While escorting defendant to the Dean's office, Coyle and Thompson encountered two other young men. One, with a bandana obscuring the lower half of his face, approached Coyle in what the officer perceived to be a threatening manner. This man was asked for his program card, and produced one bearing the name Kenmar Butler. Coyle did not return the card, but asked that
student also to accompany him to the Dean's office. Although the student initially complied, he fled before reaching the Dean's office. Coyle radioed a description of the ...