Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

United States v. Hamilton

United States District Court, S.D. New York

May 24, 2017

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
v.
ALI HAMILTON, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          LAURA TAYLOR SWAIN United States District Judge

         Defendant Ali Hamilton (“Hamilton” or “Defendant”) is charged, in the above-captioned indictment, with: participation in a racketeering conspiracy in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1962(d) (Count One); assault and attempted murder in aid of racketeering activity in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 1959(a)(3), 1959(a)(5), and 2 (Counts Two and Three); participation in a narcotics conspiracy in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 846 (Count Four); a firearms offense in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 924(c)(1)(A)(i), (ii), (iii), and 2 (Count Five); and being a felon in possession of a firearm in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1) (Count Six). Prior to the filing of the above-captioned Second Superseding Indictment, Defendant moved for a) severance of the trial of Count Three of the S1 Superseding Indictment, which charged him with being a felon in possession of a firearm in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1), from the trial of Count One, which charged him with participation in a narcotics conspiracy in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 846, and Count Two, which charged him with a firearms offense in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 924(c)(1)(A)(iii) and 2, of the S1 Superseding Indictment; and b) the suppression of property recovered, including a gun, a bag of marijuana and two cellular telephones, and statements made, during his arrest and interrogations on October 31, 2015. This Memorandum Opinion and Order addresses Defendant's motion.

         The Court held an evidentiary hearing on January 18, 2017. At the suppression hearing, the Government presented the testimony of New York City Police Department (“NYPD”) Sergeant Douglas Soriano (“Sergeant Soriano”) and NYPD Officer Angel Vazquez (“Officer Vazquez”). Defendant submitted an Affidavit in support of the motion in advance of the hearing (Docket Entry No. 45), and the parties submitted memoranda both prior to and following the hearing in support of their positions. The Court heard oral argument on March 27, 2017.

         The Court observed each suppression hearing witness carefully and has reviewed thoroughly the evidence and the pre- and post-hearing submissions of the parties, including the Defendant's affidavit and the parties' stipulation concerning the testimony of another potential witness. This Memorandum Opinion and Order sets forth the Court's findings of fact and conclusions of law. To the extent any finding of fact includes conclusions of law it is deemed a conclusion of law, and vice versa. For the following reasons, the suppression aspect of Defendant's motion is denied and the severance aspect of Defendant's motion is denied without prejudice to renewal.

         Findings of Fact

         The following facts were established by a preponderance of the credible evidence. At approximately 10:00 p.m. on the night of October 31, 2015, uniformed NYPD police officers who were members of an anti-crime patrol team were driving in an unmarked car in the vicinity of a building located at 1526 Beach Avenue in the Bronx, New York (the “Building”). There had previously been multiple 911 and 311 calls regarding drinking, drug use, and drug sales in front of and inside the Building; a 311 complaint concerning loud music at the Building was received that same evening. The officers were familiar with the Building because the stretch of Beach Avenue on which it is located was “one of the more problematic streets” that the officers routinely patrolled. From their car, the officers observed a group of individuals congregated in front of the Building and perceived that one or more members of the group may have been drinking.[1]

         One of the officers, Sergeant Soriano, stepped out of the car to speak with the group of individuals. When he emerged from the car, however, he observed that a door to the Building was open and decided to hold the door open to facilitate police entry into the Building because, on prior occasions, individuals had denied police access to the Building by running inside and locking the door.

         As he approached the door, Sergeant Soriano observed Hamilton coming down the hallway of the Building towards him and, after the two men had made eye contact, Sergeant Soriano observed Hamilton making a gripping movement at his waist which, from the way Hamilton's hand was positioned, Sergeant Soriano perceived as the gripping of a gun. Hamilton then turned around. He ignored and did not respond to the officer's repeated commands to stop. Hamilton proceeded to walk quickly to the back of the hallway and up a set of stairs to a landing to avoid engaging with Sergeant Soriano. Sergeant Soriano followed Hamilton to the stairs, took cover behind the frame of a door and continued ordering him to stop and turn around. The officer perceived that Hamilton, who had his back to him, was moving an object in his waistband and, suspecting reasonably that Hamilton was armed and dangerous, Sergeant Soriano drew his firearm to reinforce his repeated commands to Hamilton to stop and turn around. While he did so, Sergeant Soriano observed Hamilton making furtive movements in his jacket pocket. Hamilton thereafter turned around, putting his hands up. He then quickly reached into a jacket pocket and pulled out dice, saying something to the effect of, “Officer, it's just dice.” The area from which he removed the dice was distinct from the waistband area in which Sergeant Soriano believed that Hamilton had gripped a gun.

         Hamilton then descended to the base of the stairs and another police officer seized him. Sergeant Soriano left Hamilton with that officer, Lieutenant Jeremy Scheublin, momentarily to unlock the Building door to allow additional officers to enter, and then returned to the base of the stairs. Sergeant Soriano reached for Hamilton's waistband, and Hamilton attempted to evade the officer's grasp by bending over into a hunched position. Sergeant Soriano felt an object in Hamilton's pants, perceiving it to be a firearm, based on its “L-shape.” Hamilton struggled and the police officers took him to the ground, handcuffed him, and rolled him over onto his back. Sergeant Soriano lifted Hamilton's pants and recovered a firearm from Hamilton's groin area. A bag of marijuana and two cellular telephones were also recovered from Hamilton's person.

         When Sergeant Soriano removed the firearm, Hamilton made a statement to the effect of, “You guys don't understand, people want me dead.” The statement was not made in response to questioning by Sergeant Soriano or any other police officer.

         Hamilton was then arrested, taken into custody, and interviewed by detectives at the NYPD's 43rd Precinct after being informed of his Miranda rights.

         Conclusions of Law

         “On a motion to suppress evidence in a criminal trial, once [the defendant] has established a basis for his motion, the burden rests on the Government to prove, by a preponderance of the evidence, the legality of the actions of its officers.” United States v. Peterson, No. 12CR409, 2012 WL 4473298, at *6 (S.D.N.Y. Sept. 28, 2012). Here, Hamilton tendered an affidavit in which he asserted, in substance, that the police stopped, ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.