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U.S. v. MCDANIEL

August 29, 2003

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA -V- JEFFREY MCDANIEL, DEFENDANT(S)


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Laura Taylor Swain, District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Defendant Jeffrey McDaniel, charged in a one-count indictment with being a felon in possession of a firearm, seeks an order (i) suppressing any evidence seized in connection with the execution of a search warrant at Defendant's home; (ii) suppressing any statements made by Defendant to the police; (iii) suppressing any items seized from Defendant's person at the time of his arrest; (iv) directing the Government to disclose prior bad act evidence it may seek to introduce against Defendant; (v) directing the Government to provide all exculpatory evidence and impeachment material as it becomes available; and (vi) directing the Government to provide certain enumerated categories of discovery. For the reasons set forth below, Defendant's motion is granted in part and denied in part.

FINDINGS OF FACT

Defendant has proffered an affidavit in support of the instant motion. In addition, on August 11, 2003, the Court heard testimony from Sergeant Daniel Fraser, Officer Gilbert Pierre-Louis, Officer Anthony Zebrowski, and Lieutenant James O'Sullivan, all employed by the [ Page 2]

New York City Police Department. Defendant did not testify. After having heard and observed the demeanor of the witnesses, the Court finds that the following relevant facts were established by a preponderance of the evidence.

On April 2, 2003, Sergeant Daniel Fraser and an Assistant United States Attorney requested a warrant authorizing the search of 1452 Stickney Place, Defendant's home. The warrant application was supported by the affidavit of Sergeant Fraser. Fraser's affidavit was in turn based on the allegations of a confidential informant (the "CI"). As set forth in the affidavit, the CI told Sergeant Fraser that he had visited Defendant at 1452 Stickney Place (the "Premises") several times over the previous three months. (Fraser Aff., Ex. B to Def.'s Mot., ¶ 7(a). The CI described the Premises to the Sergeant, who corroborated the CI's description by visiting the Premises. (Id. ¶¶ 7(b), 8). Sergeant Fraser also confirmed Defendant's presence at the Premises through a search of New York State-maintained criminal records, which generated a photograph of Defendant and showed him resident at that address. (Id. ¶ 9. The criminal record search also revealed that Defendant had been convicted of criminal possession of marijuana in the fifth degree, criminal possession of a controlled substance in the seventh and third degrees, and criminal possession of a weapon in the third degree. (Id. ¶ 9).*fn1

According to the CI, Defendant showed the CI a .22 caliber handgun at the Premises, and told the CI that the handgun would be available at the Premises should the CI need to use the gun. (Id. ¶ 7(c). The CI also stated that the CI had observed crack cocaine and marijuana in the Premises within the past three months. (Id. ¶ 7(e). The CI had observed the [ Page 3]

firearm and marijuana in the Premises within the week from March 25, 2003 to April 1, 2003.*fn2

Additionally, the CI told the Sergeant that Defendant sold crack cocaine outside a laundromat approximately five blocks from the Premises. (Id. ¶ 7(f). A search of New York City Police Department records indicated that there had been at least 13 narcotics arrests at that laundromat within the previous year. (Id. ¶ 10). Sergeant Fraser also spoke with the CI for at least three hours about criminal activity in the neighborhood of the Premises. The CI's statements were consistent with information Sergeant Fraser had already received from other law enforcement officers and cooperating witnesses. (Id. at 3).

Magistrate Judge Eaton, of this Court, issued the search warrant for the Premises, authorizing the seizure of any handguns and various drug trafficking paraphernalia at the Premises. See Search Warrant, Ex. C to Def.'s Mot., Schedule A. Before noon on April 3, 2003, Sergeant Fraser and others drove to the Premises to execute the warrant. (Transcript of hearing ("Tr.") at 19-20). When no one answered their knock on the door of the Premises, Sergeant Fraser returned to the police station house, leaving Officer Gilbert Pierre-Louis and other officers behind to watch for Defendant. (Id. at 147-48).

Around noon, the officers positioned in front of the Premises radioed Officer Pierre-Louis that Defendant was leaving the Premises and entering a taxicab. (Id. at 148). Officer Pierre-Louis cut off the taxicab with his unmarked police car as the cab drove around the corner from the Premises. (Id.) Officer Pierre-Louis approached the cab on foot with his [ Page 4]

handgun drawn and ordered Defendant to step out of the vehicle. (Id. at 148-49). At least two other officers were on the scene as well; they handcuffed Defendant and patted him down. Officer Pierre-Louis also searched the backseat of the cab. (Id. at 149). Defendant was placed in the back seat of a marked police car operated by Officer Zebrowski. (Id. at 161). Officer Zebrowski drove Defendant to the front of the Premises, and remained in the police car with Defendant. (Id. at 162).

As he sat in the police car, Defendant expressed concern about the search that was then proceeding in his home, and asked about the safety of his dog. (Id. at 162-63). Officer Zebrowski informed Defendant that the police were "conducting a search warrant," and that "there is (sic) possibly drugs and guns in the apartment." (Id. at 163). Zebrowski then told Defendant that, "If there's something you want to tell me, I'm listening." (Id.). After at least a moment of silence, Defendant told Zebrowski that "there's a gun under my mother's bed." Id.) Zebrowski caught the attention of Sergeant Fraser and told him that Defendant "has got something to tell you." (Id. at 164). Fraser approached Defendant, who was still handcuffed in the back seat of Zebrowski's police car, and said "What's up?". (Id. at 21-22). Defendant repeated his statement that a gun was under his mother's bed. (Id.) Fraser went back inside the house and recovered a .22 caliber Calico semi-automatic weapon from underneath Defendant's mother's bed. (Id. at 22). Defendant was then taken to the station house.

At no time prior to arriving at the station house was Defendant given the Miranda warnings. At the station house, Defendant was placed in an interrogation room. (Id. at 23). Sergeant Fraser explained to Defendant why he was arrested and the charges against him. (Id. at 25). Sergeant Fraser and Lieutenant O'Sullivan then interviewed Defendant for approximately [ Page 5]

one hour concerning criminal activity in the neighborhood. (Id. at 26). Fraser showed Defendant pictures of suspects in an attempt to get any information Defendant may have had about them. (Id. at 25). After an hour, Defendant asked Fraser what was going to happen to his mother, who was a civilian employee of the police department. (Id. at 27).

Sergeant Fraser told Defendant that the police department's Internal Affairs Bureau would investigate his mother because the gun was found underneath her bed. (Id.) The Court credits the testimony of Fraser and O'Sullivan that they did not threaten Defendant that a failure to admit possession of the weapon would result in his mother being arrested and fired. The only evidence that Fraser and O'Sullivan threatened Defendant with the arrest and termination ...


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