United States District Court, D. Minnesota
Calhoun‐Lopez, Assistant United States Attorney,
Counsel for Plaintiff.
Douglas Olson, Assistant Federal Defender, Counsel for
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
MICHAEL J. DAVIS United States District Court Judge
matter is before the Court on the Report and Recommendation
of the Magistrate Judge dated January 10, 2017 in which she
recommends the Court deny Defendant’s motion to
suppress evidence obtained as a result of search and seizure
and Defendant’s motion to suppress statements,
admissions and answers.
to statute, the Court has conducted a de novo review
of the record. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1); Local Rule
72.2(b). Based on that review, the Court finds that the
initial search of the Defendant’s residence was not a
permissible search under the community caretaker exception to
the warrant requirement. Accordingly, the Court will not
adopt the Report and Recommendation and will grant
Defendant’s motions to suppress evidence and
exception to the requirement that law enforcement obtain a
warrant based on probable cause prior to searching a
residence is “the need to assist persons who are
seriously injured or threatened with such injury. ‘The
need to protect or preserve life or avoid serious injury is
justification for what would be otherwise illegal absent an
exigency.’” Brigham City, Utah v.
Stuart, 547 U.S. 398, 403 (2006) (quoting Mincey v.
Arizona, 437 U.S. 385, 392 (1978)). “Accordingly,
law enforcement officers may enter a home without a warrant
to render emergency assistance to an injured occupant or to
protect an occupant from imminent injury.” Id.
Eighth Circuit has repeatedly recognized that a
“‘community caretaker’ classification may
justify noninvestigatory searches and seizures in certain
limited situations.” United States v. Smith,
820 F.3d 356, 360 (8th Cir. 2016). “A police officer
may enter a residence without a warrant as a community
caretaker where the officer has a reasonable belief that an
emergency exists requiring his or her attention.”
Id. (quoting United States v. Quezada, 448
F.3d 1005, 1007 (8th Cir. 2006)). “When police must
make a split‐second decision in the face of an
emergency to either stand idly by, permitting a dangerous
situation to continue uninterrupted, or act, addressing the
potential danger to protect the public, we have reasoned that
officers are expected to act.” United States v.
Harris, 747 F.3d 1013, 1018 (8th Cir. 2014).
the reasonable belief standard applied in these situations is
less exacting than probable cause, such belief must be based
on specific and articulable facts that outweigh the
defendant’s interests in freedom from government
intrusion. Id. An action may be deemed reasonable
under the Fourth Amendment, regardless of the officer’s
subjective state of mind, if “the circumstances, viewed
objectively, justify [the] action.” Id.
(quoting Scott v. United States, 436 U.S. 128, 138
on the evidence presented at the motions hearing, Minneapolis
Officers Anderson and Moua were on routine patrol in the
Fourth Precinct on February 5, 2015. At approximately 9:00
p.m., they received a call from dispatch concerning a 911
call. The information provided to the police was that a
caller called 911 and said “there’s two men that
came inside the house with guns.”(Transcript at 9.) The
police were also given the address of the subject house.
(Id.) Based on the testimony of Officer Anderson,
that is the only information they received from
Anderson testified that they drove to the house in question,
and parked a few houses away. (T. at 11.) The officers got
out of their squad car and approached the house on foot.
(Id.) When they first approached the house, the
officers did not detect any signs of stress or yelling coming
from inside the house. (Id.) The officers then
looked in the windows and saw no one or anything of concern.
(Id. at 12.) The officers then knocked on the door,
which was quickly answered by a male, later identified as
Dominic Peace, who let the officers into the home.
(Id. at 12, 28.) Upon entering, the police officers
immediately detained Peace and searched him for weapons.
(Id. at 14.) Peace did not have a weapon on him.
(Id. at 29.) At this time, additional officers
arrived at the scene. (Id. at 14.) Thereafter, the
officers conducted a sweep of the house to make sure it was
safe for the officers and to make sure that no one inside the
house posed a threat. (Id. at 15.) The officers did
not encounter any other individual in the home after
completing the sweep. (Id.) One officer did observe
a short barreled shotgun on a rack in a closet in one of the
bedrooms. (Id. at 16.)
the house was cleared, the officers observed that a white
vehicle was driving back and forth in the alley behind the
home. (Id. at 19.) Eventually, the car parked in the
driveway. (Id.) The officers questioned the
occupants of the car and learned that the female, identified
as Bree Majeski, lived at the house. (Id.) Ms.
Majeski told officers that Mr. Peace was a friend of
Terrance. (Id. at 22.) In response to the
officer’s questions, Ms. Majeski indicated that
Terrance also lived at the house, and that his bedroom was
the one in which the shotgun was found in the closet.
(Id. at 23.)
about that time, the Defendant ‐ Terrance Seymour
‐ approached the home from the alley. (Id. at
22.) When they learned his identity, officers arrested the
Defendant because of the discovery of the short barreled
shotgun in his bedroom. (Id. at 24.) The Defendant
was then taken to the Hennepin County Jail, where he was
subjected to a search. (Id. at 40.) After a small
amount of marijuana was found in his front pocket, the deputy
obtained permission to conduct a strip search. The deputy
found two bags of a white powdery substance between the
Defendant’s buttocks. (Id. at 42.) The
Defendant was later indicted on the charge of possession of
an unregistered firearm in violation of 26 U.S.C. 5841 and
determine whether the search was reasonable in this case, the
Court must focus on those objective facts known to the
officers before the search was conducted. In this case, the
officers were notified of a 911 call in which the caller
reported that two men entered a house with guns. Clearly, in
and of itself, entering a home with guns is not illegal. Once
they arrived at the house, the officers did not see or hear
anything that would suggest someone was in danger. When the
officers knocked on the door, the knock was ...