Commonwealth v. Davenport

The Pennsylvania Superior Court affirmed the denial of the defendant’s motion to suppress. The Court based its decision on the emergency aid exception. The defendant’s mother called the police when she found him unconscious on her porch. The defendant regained consciousness and stood up while the police were on the scene. An officer saw a heavy bulge in the defendant’s hoodie’s front pocket and immediately knew it was a firearm. Thus, the officer patted down the defendant, removed a gun from the hoodie, and arrested the defendant, who filed a suppression motion. The trial court denied the motion and convicted the defendant. The Superior Court affirmed the emergency aid exception, which permits police officers to make warrantless entries and searches when they reasonably believe that a person needs immediate aid. The defendant argued that possessing a gun, particularly in one’s own home, did not create reasonable suspicion. He argued that because the seizure was not supported by either reasonable suspicion or probable cause, the trial court should have suppressed all evidence flowing from that seizure. The Court disagreed. Given that the defendant’s mother informed the responding officers that the defendant had overdosed on illegal drugs, they could reasonably have concluded that he might pose a further threat of harm to himself and others, including the officers and the medics attending to the defendant. This inference, combined with the officers’ observation of the bulge in the defendant’s pocket, which an officer immediately recognized was a gun, supported a finding that “a reasonably prudent man in the circumstances would be warranted in the belief that his safety or that of others was in danger”.

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