[975 N.Y.S.2d 722] Lipsitz Green Scime Cambria, LLP, Buffalo (Timothy P. Murphy and Paul J. Cambria, Jr., of counsel), for appellant.
Lawrence Friedman, District Attorney, Batavia (William G. Zickl and Melissa Lightcap Cianfrini of counsel), for respondent.
[998 N.E.2d 385] The primary issue in this appeal is whether the courts below correctly concluded that the actions of the police were a reasonable response to a serious and ongoing exigent situation under the emergency doctrine.
At about 9:00 P.M. one evening in February 2009, the Genesee County Sheriff's Department received a 911 report of a suspicious person walking on a particular roadway. A deputy responded and observed a man who matched the description wearing a one-piece camouflage hunting outfit and a white hood. As the individual approached the officer's vehicle, he dropped a metal object and pulled a lug wrench from his pocket. The deputy observed what appeared to be wet blood stains on the man's knees, thighs, hands and shoes.
The officer asked the man for identification and he produced a correction officer identity card bearing his name— Scott Doll. Defendant Doll indicated that he was walking to lower his blood pressure because he had a doctor's appointment the next morning. He further explained that his van was parked near an automotive facility and he asked for a ride to that location. The deputy agreed to take defendant to his vehicle.
After defendant got into the rear seat of the police car, the firefighter who had placed the 911 call came to the scene and informed the deputy that when he had [998 N.E.2d 386] noticed defendant at the automotive garage, defendant had turned away from him and crouched between two cars in an attempt to avoid detection. Based on this information, the deputy told defendant that he was being detained until the situation was assessed. Defendant was then frisked and handcuffed. In response to a question about the blood on his clothes, defendant explained that he was wearing his deer butchering outfit because of the [975 N.Y.S.2d 723] cold temperature that evening. He did not explain why the blood was wet.
The deputy drove defendant to his van and discovered blood in several places inside and outside defendant's vehicle, along with bloody gloves nearby. Other police officers who arrived at the scene noticed blood on defendant's face and saw him leave bloody footprints in the snow. Around this time, defendant asked to speak to his divorce lawyer. When the police questioned defendant about whether the blood was from a deer or a human, defendant declined to explain the source of the blood or take the deputies to the alleged butchered deer.
These unusual circumstances caused the deputies to believe that a person may have been injured in an accident or assault so they continued to question defendant despite his request for legal assistance. Defendant repeated that he could not answer the officers' inquiries. The police then tried to contact defendant's
relatives and acquaintances (as well as other individuals) to determine whether anyone needed emergency assistance. Officers also searched for an injured person in the vicinity where defendant had been walking. Eventually, police officers went to the residence of defendant's business partner and discovered the man lying dead in his driveway.
In the meantime, the police impounded defendant's van and took him to the sheriff's office. Defendant was photographed, tested for DNA and his clothes were seized. A few hours later, a female friend (a former coworker of defendant) arrived at the police station and asked to speak with defendant. An investigator, who was aware of the death of defendant's business partner, initially rebuffed the woman. He eventually allowed her to meet with defendant after explaining that he intended to remain in the room while they spoke and he would be taking notes but would not participate in the discussion. During the meeting, with the investigator only a few feet away, defendant told the woman that the case did not involve an animal; he had been present but did not do anything; the case was " open and ...