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People v. Dent

Supreme Court, Queens County

June 22, 2017

The People of the State of New York,
v.
Tyran Dent, Defendant.

          Deborah Stevens Modica, J.S.C.

         A hearing was held on May 11, 2017 to determine the admissibility of statement evidence and physical property. The following constitutes the decision and order of the Court.

         FINDINGS OF FACT

         POLICE OFFICER THOMAS LANE, a twelve-year veteran of the New York City Police Department, testified that on June 6, 2016, he was working as part of the 103 Precinct anti-crime unit, was dressed in plain clothes, and was assigned to an unmarked vehicle with Police Officers Durkin and Gasperetti. Prior to joining the anti-crime unit, Lane had received training regarding identifying forged credit cards both at the police academy as well as in the field. Lane learned about the characteristics of forged credit cards as well as how to use a magnetic strip swiping machine.

         At approximately 6:50 P.M., Officer Lane was driving northbound on 177 Street in the vicinity of Liberty Avenue when he observed a black Chrysler 200 automobile, which was occupied by two black men, which was headed southbound, under the train trestle, at a high rate of speed - approximately 50 miles-per-hour in a 25 miles-per-hour zone. That vehicle matched the description of a vehicle which Lane had received earlier that two black males, one of whom had a goatee, were in a black Chrysler 200 or 300 with New Jersey license plates and were making threats with a gun.

         After observing the vehicle, the officers made a quick U-turn, activated their vehicle's lights and sirens, and pursued the Chrysler as it increased speed while heading southbound on 177 Street towards 106 Avenue. At 106 Avenue, the vehicle made a right-hand turn without signaling, causing pedestrians on the sidewalk to have to jump backwards, and then proceeded westbound on 106 Avenue. The Chrysler then made a left-hand turn onto Polhemus Avenue without signaling and then made an abrupt stop in the middle of the street. Officer Lane and his partners exited their vehicle, guns drawn, and approached the Chrysler. Lane approached the passenger side, where the defendant, Tyran Dent, was sitting. Co-defendant Laki Johnson, who had a goatee, was sitting in the driver's seat of the vehicle, laughing, and said "I saw you guys back there when you turned your lights on; I was not going to stop but I figured I would anyway." [1]

         From his vantage point outside the passenger-side window, Officer Lane observed two credit/debit cards sitting in the cup holder in the center console of the vehicle. Lane asked the defendant if he had any identification on him and the defendant stated that he did not, but stated that his name was Tyran Dent. Officer Lane recognized the defendant because the police department had identified both the defendant and his co-defendant as gun recidivists and members of the "POV City" gang. As part of his assignment in anti-crime, Officer Lane was responsible for making himself familiar with known gang members and criminal activity, and that is how he recognized the defendant. The co-defendant had a picture of his driver's license on his cell phone. Lane had never arrested the defendant before, but had previously arrested the co-defendant two times and had had other interactions with him during previous traffic stops. Officer Lane testified that, based upon his experience and training, the POV City gang, which the defendant and co-defendant are members of, is known to engage in forged credit card activity.

         Officer Lane asked both the defendant and co-defendant about who owned the Chrysler automobile. The vehicle had a bar code on it, which indicated to Lane that it was a rental car. The co-defendant stated that one of his friends had rented the vehicle, but he was unable to produce a valid rental agreement. Officer Lane asked if either the defendant or co-defendant knew who the credit/debit cards belonged to and why they were in the center console and they both responded that they had no idea whose cards they were.

         Officer Lane and his partners removed the defendant and co-defendant from the vehicle because they fit the description given in the previous radio run, because the co-defendant only had a picture of his driver's license on him, as well as there being unclaimed credit/debit cards in the center console. The defendant and co-defendant were taken to the back of the vehicle while Officer Lane tried to contact Enterprise Rent-a-car to obtain rental information, but he was unsuccessful.

         Officer Gasperetti placed the co-defendant in handcuffs and found three additional forged credit cards in his pocket. Lane and Officer Durkin tried to handcuff the defendant, but the defendant escaped into backyards, despite a police chase.

         When Officer Lane returned to the vehicle, he recovered the two credit/debit cards from the center console, and examined them. One of the cards had a signature strip on the back which was not signed, both cards had scuff marks on the numbers, and the numbers appeared distorted and slightly off as if they were not professionally punched. None of the cards had the names of either the defendant or co-defendant on them. Officer Lane testified that the fact that the cards were in the center console, rather than in someone's wallet or pocket, as well as the fact that the defendant and co-defendant were known gang members and each had prior arrests for forgery were all facts that led him to conclude the cards were forged.

         Officer Lane ran both cards through a magnetic swipe reader and verified that the number on the front of the cards did not match the numbers on the magnetic strip. [2] Lane testified that based on his training and experience, if the numbers on the front of the card do not match the numbers on the magnetic strip, the card is forged. Photographs of the forged credit/debit cards recovered from the center console and the co-defendant's pocket were received into evidence at the hearing.

         As he ran the credit/debit cards through the magnetic swipe reader, the information on the magnetic strip appeared on his computer screen. Lane then added the numbers which appeared on the front of the card and the type of credit card, as well as his name, the defendant's name, and the arrest number on the document, which was received into evidence at the hearing. Without the card reader, Officer Lane would still have been able to confirm that the card was forged by contacting the bank to determine what information was on the magnetic strip.

         On July 25, 2016, Officer Lane traveled to the Criminal Courthouse in Queens County and at approximately 1:50 P.M., he observed the defendant standing in front of Supreme Court Part K-7. The defendant then ran down the hallway and down the steps to the ground floor. He ran northbound on the ground floor until he reached the elevator bank where there happened to be another police officer. The defendant then turned right into the area by the elevator bank where there were court officers standing around. The defendant threw himself on the ground, ...


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