United States District Court, E.D. New York
February 20, 2004.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, -against- JOSUE BEDELL, Defendant
The opinion of the court was delivered by: ARTHUR SPATT, District Judge
MEMORANDUM OF DECISION AND ORDER
Having previously been convicted of a crime punishable by imprisonment
exceeding one year, on February 27, 2003, the Government filed an
indictment against Josue Bedell ("Bedell" or the "defendant") on one
count of violating 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1) for possessing a firearm.
Pending before the Court is a motion by Bedell to suppress a gun
recovered from his room and to suppress statements allegedly made by him
under custodial interrogation. In the alternative, the defendant requests
a hearing to determine whether the physical evidence
and statements should be suppressed.
Bedell alleges the following facts in support of the instant motion.
The defendant states that he was a tenant in a room on the second floor
of 83 Heston Road, Shirley, New York ("Heston Location"). The defendant
claims that the Heston Location is a rooming house and that he was the
sole tenant and occupant of his room. Bedell contends that his room was
not a common area and that no other person had authority to enter or
allow entry to the room.
According to Bedell, on February 11, 2003, officers of the Suffolk
County Police Department entered the Heston Location to arrest him on a
charge of criminal contempt in the first degree under New York State law.
He claims that the officers forcibly entered his room without knocking on
his door or announcing their identity or purpose. The defendant states
that he did not consent to their entry. Upon entering his room, the
arresting officers recovered a .380 caliber semiautomatic pistol on the
After his arrest, the defendant states that he was taken to the 7th
Precinct in Suffolk County. Bedell contends that he was never advised of
his Miranda rights before being interrogated. In addition, the defendant
contends that he never made the statements attributed to him.
In its opposition papers, the Government alleges that on February 10,
2003, the defendant's girlfriend, Jamie Harris ("Harris"), filed a
complaint against Bedell at the 7th
Precinct, alleging that earlier that day the defendant had assaulted her
in violation of an Order of Protection issued on January 28, 2003, by the
Honorable John Kelly, of the Suffolk District Court. On the next day,
February 11, 2003, the Government states that Detectives John Clark and
David Winter of the Suffolk County Police Department went to the Heston
Location to arrest him for assaulting Harris and violating the Order of
The Government alleges that Detective Clark had arrested the defendant
at his home and was aware that the Heston Location was a rooming house
and that the defendant was renting a room on the second floor. According
to the Government, when the detectives arrived at the Heston Location,
they knocked on the front door of the rooming house, at which time an
individual residing at the Heston Location answered the door and gave the
detectives permission to enter and look for the defendant. The Government
alleges that the detectives went to the room in which they knew Bedell
resided, and knocked on his door. The Government further alleges that
Bedell opened the door to his room, at which point the detectives asked
him to step out of his room, which he did.
The Government states that the detectives placed handcuffs on the
defendant and instructed him not to move. The Government further states
that the barefoot defendant told the detectives he needed to get his
boots from his room. The Government asserts that the detectives did not
allow Bedell to get his boots, but shined a flashlight into the room to
look for the defendant's shoes. According to the Government, the
detectives observed, in plain
view, a handgun on the floor of the room near the defendant's shoes. The
Government states that they discovered later that the gun was defaced.
The Government contends that the detectives recovered the gun which was
located approximately six to eight feet from the door. Thereafter, the
defendant was transported to the 7th Precinct.
The Government further contends that at the precinct, the defendant was
orally advised of his Miranda warnings, and waived his right to remain
silent. According to the Government, Bedell told the detectives, in
substance, that the gun was not hidden because he was asleep before the
detectives had arrived and that he needed the gun because people were
A. The Defendant's Motion to Suppress the Gun
The Fourth Amendment provides that "the right of the people to be
secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against
unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated. . . ." U.S.
Const. amend. IV. This amendment encompasses the common law requirement
that a police officer entering a premise knock and announce his identity
and purpose before forcible entry. Wilson v. Arkansas, 514 U.S. 927,
934, 115 S.Ct. 1914, 131 L.Ed.2d 976 (1995). The "knock and announce"
rule extends to police officers entering a tenant's room in a rooming
house, as privacy expectations are high . . . even in private rooms."
Anabile v. Pellegrino, 303 F.3d 107, 119 (2d Cir. 2001). Evidence seized
during a search may be suppressed if this rule is violated. See United
States v. Burke, 517 F.2d 377, 386 n.13 (2d Cir. 1975). However,
exceptions to this "knock and announce" rule exist "under circumstances
presenting a threat of physical violence" or "where police officers have
reason to believe that evidence would likely to be destroyed if advance
notice were given." Id. at 936.
An evidentiary hearing on a motion to suppress "ordinarily is required
if the moving papers are sufficiently definite, specific, and
nonconjectural to enable the court to conclude that contested issues of
fact going to the validity of the search are in question." United States
v. Pena, 961 F.2d 333, 339 (2d Cir. 1992) (citations and quotations
omitted). A defendant seeking to suppress evidence bears the burden of
showing the existence of disputed issues of material fact. See Pena, 961
F.2d at 338.
Here, Bedell states that the arresting officers forcibly entered his
room without knocking on the door and announcing their identity or
purpose. The defendant states that he never consented to their entry of
his room. As such, he contends that the gun must be suppressed due to the
arresting officers' violation of the "knock and announce" rule. Bedell
asserts that the arresting officers did not possess a "no knock" warrant,
nor did exigent circumstances exist that would excuse the officers'
noncompliance. On the other hand, the Government contends that the
detectives did knock on his door. In addition, the Government asserts
that the defendant opened the door and voluntarily stepped into the
hallway at the detectives' request and that he was arrested in the
Based on the dispute of these material facts, the Court cannot decide
Bedell's motion to suppress the gun without an evidentiary hearing.
Accordingly, the motion is respectfully referred to United States
Magistrate Judge E. Thomas Boyle to conduct a suppression hearing with
regard to this issue at her earliest convenience.
B. The Defendant's Motion to Suppress the Post-Arrest Statements
"[T]he coercion inherent in custodial interrogation blurs the line
between voluntary and involuntary statements." Dickerson v. United
States, 530 U.S. 428, 435, 147 L.Ed.2d 405, 120 S.Ct. 2326 (2000). To
prevent such coercion and to safeguard a suspect's privilege against self
incrimination, law enforcement officers must provide a suspect with
Miranda warnings prior to conducting a custodial interrogation. See id.;
United States v. Ramirez, 79 F.3d 298, 304 (2d Cir.), cert. denied, 117
So. Ct. 140 (1996). Interrogation "refers not only to express
questioning, but also to any words or actions on the part of the police
(other than those normally attendant to arrest and custody) that the
police should know are reasonably likely to elicit an incriminating
response from the suspect." Rhode Island v. Innis, 446 U.S. 291, 301,
64 L.Ed.2d 297, 100 S.Ct. 1682 (1980).
The Second Circuit has held that a defendant's bare assertion that he
did not receive his Miranda warnings prior to being interrogated, when
the Government asserts the contrary, creates a sufficient factual dispute
to justify an evidentiary hearing. United States v.
Mathurin, 148 F.3d 68, 69 (2d Cir. 1998). In this case, because Bedell
unambiguously states that his Miranda rights were not read to him before
being interrogated, the Court finds that a hearing is warranted to make
the necessary factual findings. As such, the Court will defer its
decision until after the determination of the statement suppression
Having reviewed the submissions of the parties, and having given them
an opportunity for oral argument, it is hereby
ORDERED, that Bedell's motion to suppress the gun is DEFERRED, pending
the outcome of the suppression hearing; and it is further
ORDERED, that Bedell's motion to suppress his post-arrest statements is
DEFERRED, pending the outcome of the suppression hearing; and it further
ORDERED, that Bedell's motion to suppress the gun and his post-arrest
statements is respectfully referred to United States Magistrate Judge E.
Thomas Boyle to conduct a suppression hearing regarding the seizure of
the gun and his alleged post-arrest statements at her earliest
convenience and to report to this Court.
© 1992-2004 VersusLaw Inc.