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United States v. Medina

United States District Court, S.D. New York

May 8, 2014

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
v.
ROBERT MEDINA, a/k/a " Pops," RUBEN ESTRADA, a/k/a " Mafia," and JOHN JONES, a/k/a " Doe," a/k/a " Doughboy," Defendants

Decided May 7, 2014.

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For Robert Medina, aka: Pope, Defendant: David Matthew Rody, Michael D. Mann, Timothy James Treanor, Sidley Austin LLP (NY), New York, NY.

OPINION

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MEMORANDUM OPINION & ORDER

Paul G. Gardephe, United States District Judge.

Defendant Robert Medina is charged with (1) conspiring to distribute, and to possess with intent to distribute, 280 grams or more of crack cocaine, and marijuana, in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 846; (2) using and carrying a firearm during and in relation to a drug trafficking crime, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924(c); and (3) on July 28, 2012, using and carrying a firearm in connection with a drug trafficking crime, and causing the death of a person through use of a firearm, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924(j). (S3 Indictment (Dkt. No. 111))

On July 1, 2013, Medina moved to suppress evidence " of his arrest, identification, and purported [post-arrest] statements" made to members of the New York City Police Department (" NYPD" ) on July 28, 2012, claiming that police officers had violated his rights under the Fourth, Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendments. (Dkt. No. 11; Nov. 16, 2013 Def. Br. (Dkt. No. 43) at 1) For the reasons stated below, Medina's motion to suppress will be denied.

BACKGROUND

Medina's arrest arose from the NYPD's investigation of two shootings in the Bronx on July 28, 2012. (Hearing Tr. 16, 1426) The first shooting took place at about 1:00 a.m. near 222nd Street and White Plains Road, and resulted in a non-fatal injury to a bystander outside Scotty Pump Ups Tavern

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(" Scotty's" ). (Hearing Tr. 142) The second shooting took place at about 5:00 a.m. near 228th Street and White Plains Road, and caused the death of Gary Clark. (Hearing Tr. 16, 18, 196)

I. MEDINA'S AFFIDAVIT

In an affidavit submitted in support of his motion to suppress, Medina states that he was inside his girlfriend's apartment -- Apt. 1A, 721 East 228th Street -- on the morning of July 28, 2012.[1] (July 1, 2013 Rody Decl. (Dkt. No. 12), Ex. A (" Medina Aff." ) ¶ ¶ 2, 4) At approximately 9:30 a.m., he awoke to hear police officers pounding on the door. (Id. ¶ 4) After Medina's girlfriend unlocked the door, officers pushed it open and entered. (Id. ¶ ¶ 4, 5)

Once inside, officers ordered Medina to get out of bed, grabbed him by the arm, and pulled him into the hallway. (Id. ¶ 5) An officer then took Medina down the hall to a stairwell, instructed him to sit, and questioned him about a shooting. (Id. ¶ ¶ 5, 6) Medina was not given Miranda warnings. (Id. ¶ 6) At one point during the interview, Medina asked to return to the apartment; his request was denied. (Id.) Medina does not aver how long he was questioned, but ten minutes after the questioning ended, he was allowed to return to the apartment and the officers left. (Id. ¶ 7) Medina went back to sleep. (Id. ¶ 8)

About two hours later, officers returned to the Apartment 1A, pounded on the door, identified themselves as " NYPD," and shouted for the occupants to " open the door, now." (Id. ¶ 9) They also warned that they did not " want to have to kick the door down," and that they had " people at the windows." (Id.)

When Medina opened the door, he saw several officers with their guns drawn " but not pointed at [him]." (Id. ¶ 10) An officer then entered the apartment, grabbed Medina, pulled him into the hallway, and pushed him up against a wall, where he was frisked and handcuffed. (Id.) Medina claims that he told the officers that he wanted to speak to a lawyer. (Id. ¶ 11) Detective Mullarkey responded, " You watch too much TV." (Id.) Medina was not given Miranda warnings. (Id. ¶ 12)

Medina was then transported to the 47th Precinct. (Id.) Medina claims that he told another detective that he wanted a lawyer, but that detective told him that they would " talk about that later." (Id. ¶ 13) Medina was then placed in an interview room. (Id.) He was not given Miranda warnings. (Id.)

Medina states that he remained in the interview room for " many hours." (Id. ¶ 14) Officers occasionally entered the room during that time. (Id.) After Medina complained that he was cold -- because of the air conditioning and his wet clothing -- he was given an NYPD raincoat. (Id.) Medina repeatedly asked whether he was free to leave; officers told Medina that he could not leave, and that he would have to speak with the arresting officer. (Id.)

After approximately eight hours, Detective Crisfield, Detective Mullarkey, and a third detectives entered the interview room and introduced themselves. (Id. ¶ 15) Medina asked why he had been arrested and was told, " You know what for." (Id.) Medina then asked if he could go home, and Detective Mullarkey replied " in substance" that " [i]f you say the right things you can go home tonight." (Id.) The officers then questioned him for about an hour without giving him Miranda

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warnings. (Id.) They provided Medina with Chinese food and cigarettes during this interview. (Id.) Medina does not allege what was discussed during this interview. (Id.)

After the interview, Detective Crisfield told Medina that he could not " use" any of the interview because Medina had not been read his Miranda rights. (Id. ¶ 16) Crisfield stated that he would read Miranda warnings to Medina and that Medina should then sign a form acknowledging that he had been read his rights.[2] (Id.)

Medina signed the Miranda form but " refused to acknowledge item '5.'" [3] (Id. ¶ 17) After Medina signed the Miranda form, the detectives did not repeat any of the questions asked previously, but instead asked Medina whether he recognized a particular phone number and whether he recognized a man in a photograph. (Id. ¶ 18) Medina was then taken to a cell. (Id. ¶ 19)

II. SUPPRESSION HEARING TESTIMONY

The Court conducted a hearing concerning Medina's suppression motion on August 20, 2013, August 21, 2013, and October 25, 2013. NYPD Lieutenant John Fitzpatrick and Detectives Craig Crisfield, Robert Regnier, Gregory Mullarkey, and Steven Smith testified. Medina did not testify or call any witnesses.

As noted above, Medina's arrest was the product of the NYPD's investigation of (1) a shooting at about 1:00 a.m. on July 28, 2012, near 222nd Street and White Plains Road, which resulted in a non-fatal injury to a bystander outside Scotty's; and (2) a shooting at about 5:00 a.m. that same day near 228th Street and White Plains Road that caused the death of Gary Clark. (Hearing Tr. 16, 18, 142, 196) Detective Crisfield was the lead detective for the shooting outside Scotty's. (Hearing Tr. 142) Detective Mullarkey was the lead detective for the Clark homicide, and was assisted by Detectives Smith and Regnier. (Hearing Tr. 55-56, 142, 268-69, 288-89, 365-67) Lieutenant Fitzpatrick supervised the investigation of both shootings. (Hearing Tr. 15-17, 55-56)

Fitzpatrick, Crisfield and other NYPD officers who arrived at the scene of the Clark homicide on the morning of July 28, 2012 observed a bullet-ridden red Cadillac and blood on the ground across the street from an apartment building located at 721 East 228th Street. (Hearing Tr. 30-31, 144) The officers learned that Clark had driven the red Cadillac to this location shortly before his death. (Hearing Tr. 30-31)

Lieutenant Fitzpatrick and other NYPD officers who reported to the scene of the Clark homicide that morning reviewed video footage shot on two nearby security cameras. (Hearing Tr. 23-24) The cameras were trained on an apartment building located at 721 East 228th Street. (Hearing Tr. 23-24) Shortly before Clark was shot, the videotape showed several men milling about in front of the building. (GX 5; Hearing Tr. 19, 368) At the entrance to an alleyway next to the building, one man approached another, and they appeared to speak briefly. (GX 5; Hearing Tr. 19, 368, 372) The first man then

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walked away, while the other walked into the alley, bent down, and retrieved a long firearm that appears to be a shotgun or rifle. (GX 5; Hearing Tr. 19) That man then returned to East 228th Street, pointed the weapon across the street, and fired approximately three times in the vicinity of where Clark's body was found. (GX 5; Hearing Tr. 19, 27, 373) After the shooting, several men who had been standing in front of the building -- including the shooter -- ran into 721 East 228th Street. (Hearing Tr. 368, 376-77) One of the detectives who reviewed the videotape -- Detective Bonacardi -- recognized Defendant Ruben Estrada as the shooter. (Hearing Tr. 57-58)

After watching the videotape, Lieutenant Fitzpatrick directed other police officers to canvass buildings in the area. (Hearing Tr. 30-33) Detectives Crisfield and Mullarkey canvassed 721 East 228 Street at about 9:30 a.m. (Hearing Tr. 146, 293)

When Crisfield knocked on the door to Apartment 1A at 721 East 228th Street, a woman answered the door and told Crisfield that she and her boyfriend -- Defendant Medina -- were in the apartment, but that neither had seen or heard anything related to the shooting the night before. (Hearing Tr. 147-50) Crisfield did not speak with Medina at that time; his girlfriend reported that he was sleeping. (Hearing Tr. 150)

While the canvass was taking place, Lieutenant Fitzpatrick examined Clark's vehicle, the bullet-ridden red Cadillac. (Hearing Tr. 30-31) Bullet holes on the passenger side of the car " looked like they were going from the back towards the front of the car." (Hearing Tr. 31)

Soon after, an NYPD detective participating in the canvass told Lieutenant Fitzpatrick that a resident of 721 East 228th Street had suggested that officers " check Apartment 1A." (Hearing Tr. 32) Fitzpatrick and Detectives Crisfield, Regnier, Mullarkey, and Smith then returned to that building and searched the stairways, common areas, and roof for evidence of the shooter or the firearm depicted in the video footage. (Hearing Tr. 32-33, 150-51, 198, 270, 294, 378) The search yielded nothing. (Hearing Tr. 33)

At some point between 10:00 a.m. and 11:00 a.m., Fitzpatrick and the detectives knocked on the door of Apartment 1A. Medina's girlfriend opened the door. (Hearing Tr. 34, 65, 71-72, 151) The detectives asked if they could enter and talk with her about the shooting the night before, and she agreed. (Hearing Tr. 34) Once inside the apartment, the detectives found Medina in bed. He was instructed to step outside the apartment. (Hearing Tr. 34-35, 72-73, 153-54)

As Medina left the apartment, Fitzpatrick noticed that he was limping, and he asked Medina to identify himself. (Hearing Tr. 35, 75) When Fitzpatrick heard Medina's name, he recalled that Medina had been shot earlier that summer outside Scotty Pump Ups Tavern, a bar located at 222nd Street and White Plains Road. The police had interviewed Medina at that time. (Hearing Tr. 35, 75) Fitzpatrick believed that the earlier shooting of Medina outside Scotty's might be related to the non-fatal shooting outside Scotty's that morning. (Hearing Tr. 35-36) Fitzpatrick told one of the investigating detectives about the earlier shooting of Medina outside Scotty's, and told that detective to keep this incident in mind when questioning Medina.[4] (Hearing Tr. 75-76)

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Lieutenant Fitzpatrick directed Medina down the hall to Detectives Smith and Crisfield, who were standing near a stairwell. Detective Regnier then questioned Medina's girlfriend. (Hearing Tr. 36, 381)

Detectives Crisfield and Smith questioned Medina for less than fifteen minutes as he sat on the staircase. (Hearing Tr. 156, 158, 201, 381-83) Medina was not restrained or handcuffed, and according to Smith and Fitzpatrick, Medina was free to leave at any time.[5] (Hearing Tr. 77, 381-83) The detectives did not administer Miranda warnings to Medina. (Hearing Tr. 405)

Crisfield told Medina that he had been at Apartment 1A earlier that morning, but that he and the other detectives had returned to investigate new information suggesting that Medina " might have been involved" in the shooting outside 721 East 228th Street. (Hearing Tr. 156, 201) Smith obtained pedigree information from Medina, and then asked whether Medina had seen or heard anything about " what happened." (Hearing Tr. 381-82) Medina said that he had been " smoking weed" in the lobby and had not seen anything. (Hearing Tr. 383) Medina then lowered his voice, however, and told Smith to check the security cameras outside the building. (Hearing Tr. 383) Medina told Smith that the cameras would " tell you everything you want to know." (Hearing Tr. 383) During this conversation, Medina volunteered that he had been shot previously. (Hearing Tr. 404) Smith's conversation with Medina at the stairwell lasted about ten minutes and was amicable throughout. (Hearing Tr. 383) After the detectives finished questioning Medina's girlfriend, Medina was permitted to return to the apartment and detectives left. (Hearing Tr. 384)

Between noon and 1:00 p.m., Lieutenant Fitzpatrick spoke by telephone with a confidential informant (" CI" ) who stated that he had witnessed a shooting in front of Scotty's tavern that morning.[6] (Hearing Tr. 39-40) The CI said that he had been standing in front of Scotty's when he saw a man known to him as " Pops" running up the street and shooting at a red Cadillac as it drove by. (Hearing Tr. 40, 104) The CI identified Pops as the " same guy [who was] shot in front of Scotty's . . . earlier this summer." (Hearing Tr. 41) The CI stated that Defendant Estrada was with Pops but was not holding a gun. (Hearing Tr. 131)

The CI told Fitzpatrick that Pops had been on the east side of the street, in front of Scotty's, and fired shots at the passenger side of the red Cadillac as it drove northbound. (Hearing Tr. 40) The CI's description was consistent with Fitzpatrick's observations of the red Cadillac at the scene of the Clark homicide. (Hearing Tr. 40) The CI also told Fitzpatrick that Pops had been shooting a .45 caliber semi-automatic handgun, and had hit a bystander down the street from Scotty's while shooting at the red Cadillac. (Hearing Tr. 40, 87) The CI's account was likewise consistent with other information

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Fitzpatrick had obtained indicating that the bystander had been shot after leaving a restaurant about a half a block away from Scotty's. (Hearing Tr. 40)

After speaking with the CI, Fitzpatrick believed that Medina was responsible for the shooting outside Scotty's. (Hearing Tr. 41) The CI agreed to come to the station house later that day to ...


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