United States District Court, W.D. New York
DECISION AND ORDER
WILLIAM M. SKRETNY United States District Judge.
Michael Jones is charged in a one-count indictment with
possession of cocaine base with intent to distribute, in
violation of 21 U.S.C. Â§' 841 (a)(1) and (b)(1)(C).
(Docket No. 1.) Trial is scheduled to start on June 13, 2017.
6, 2017, this Court conducted an evidentiary hearing relative
to Defendant's Motion in Limine to suppress a
post-arrest, pre-Miranda statement that he made to
law enforcement. (Docket No. 84.) After the short hearing,
this Court denied Defendant's motion from the bench and
indicated that this written decision would follow.
background of this case is fully set forth in this
Court's decision denying Defendant's previous motion
to suppress evidence, familiarity with which is presumed.
See United States v. Michael Jones, 15-CR-133S, 2016
WL 7208756 (W.D.N.Y. Dec. 13, 2016). In short, on March 7,
2015, at 10:45 p.m., Buffalo police officers William Robinson
and Anniel Vidal were on routine patrol in the City of
Buffalo, N.Y., when they came upon a vehicle parked on
Westminster Avenue with its hood open. As the officers
approached, they observed Defendant on the passenger side of
the vehicle, along the curb, by the front wheel well, hunched
over the open hood. The officers pulled up to Defendant's
vehicle to investigate. After a brief encounter, Defendant
fled on foot, with Officer Vidal chasing him. When Officer
Vidal apprehended Defendant, he discovered a black bag
containing rocks of crack cocaine.
happened during the foot chase was the subject of the June 6,
2017 evidentiary hearing before this Court. Officer Vidal was
the only witness. He testified that he gave chase when
Defendant fled. He estimated that he was between 10 and 15
feet behind Defendant when Defendant began “tearing
something up in his hands” as he ran. This action
created a dust cloud through which Officer Vidal ran as he
chased Defendant. Officer Vidal testified that as he passed
through the dust cloud, he ingested whatever material
Defendant had been breaking up, which tasted bitter. Although
Officer Vidal testified that he thought he had ingested a
narcotic, he stated that he could not identify the substance
Officer Vidal caught up to Defendant, he tackled him and held
him face-down on the ground. He then immediately asked him
what he was “spraying.” Defendant responded,
“Nothing. All I had was some weed.” Either
simultaneous to or right after asking this question, Officer
Vidal saw what he believed to be a rock of crack cocaine on
the ground near where he had tackled Defendant. Officer Vidal
testified that he asked Defendant what he was spraying
because he wanted to know what he ingested and was concerned
that he could have ingested a harmful substance.
Defendant's arrest, Officer Vidal sought medical
treatment at a local hospital, though he could not recall
whether he sought treatment before or after he returned to
the police station to prepare Defendant's booking
paperwork. Other than having his vital signs monitored,
Officer Vidal received no medical treatment at the hospital.
Officer Vidal completed and filed an “exposure
form” with the Buffalo Police Department, but he did
not file a workers' compensation claim or seek any
additional medical treatment.
undisputed that Defendant's statement to Office
Vidal-“Nothing. All I had was some weed.”-was a
custodial statement made in the absence of Miranda
warnings. As such, it would ordinarily be suppressed. See
United States v. Simmons, 661 F.3d 151, 155 (2d Cir.
2011) (“It is well settled that statements obtained
during a police interrogation that are not preceded by
Miranda warnings cannot typically be used by the
prosecution in its case in chief.”).
exception to the Miranda rule exists for
“questions reasonably prompted by a concern for the
public safety or for the safety of the arresting
officers.” United States v. Newton, 369 F.3d
659, 677 (2d Cir. 2004). This exception, first set forth by
the United States Supreme Court in New York v.
Quarles, is narrow. 467 U.S. 649, 655-56, 104 S.Ct.
2626, 81 L.Ed.2d 550 (1984).
United States v. Estrada, the Second Circuit
distilled its cases addressing the public-safety exception to
First, we have observed that Miranda warnings need
not precede questions reasonably prompted by a concern for
the public safety or for the safety of arresting officers, so
long as the questioning relates to an objectively reasonable
need to protect the police or the public from an immediate
danger. While the facts in Quarles raised the
specter of danger to the public, the public safety ...