Defendant Was Not Seized Prior To Detective Witnessing the Gun, As Defendant Was Still Manipulating the Gun in His Waistband
State of New Jersey v. Anthony Ford Docket No. A-2262-19 Decided September 9, 2022
Submitted by New Jersey Criminal Lawyer, Jeffrey Hark
In a recent unpublished opinion, the Appellate Court of New Jersey affirmed the trial court’s ruling and also held that the Defendant was not seized prior to Detective Jimenez witnessing the gun. The court found that the Defendant was still manipulating the gun in his waistband as the officers’ vehicles were still approaching the building.
On November 18, 2018, police received a tip from a confidential informant that the Defendant was sitting in front of a multi-family residence in possession of a handgun. Officers headed to the address in unmarked police vehicles wearing tactical gear, including ballistics vests with “police” on the front and back. Officers drove to the scene at high speed, but did not activate their emergency lights and sirens to avoid alerting anyone of their approach. On arrival, one of the officers, Detective Freddy Jimenez, observed the Defendant and recognized him from middle school. Jimenez also knew that the Defendant had previously been arrested for firearms possession. Defendant noticed the police vehicles veering towards the building and “became startled and began to stand up while manipulating something in his waistband.” Jimenez testified that as the Defendant turned to enter the building, he witnessed the “silver part” of a firearm. Jimenez ordered the Defendant “to stop and drop the gun” but he disregarded the order and ran into the building. Jimenez chased the defendant into the building where he saw defendant running down a common hallway, drop a firearm, and force his way into a first-floor apartment. Other officers subsequently entered the apartment and arrested the Defendant. The arresting officers then conducted a search incident to arrest and located a plastic bag containing suspected marijuana.
In support of his suppression motion, the Defendant argued that the officers lacked reasonable suspicion for an investigatory stop or probable cause to make a warrantless arrest. The state argued that Jimenez had probable cause to arrest when he saw part of a handgun in defendant’s waistband, in conjunction with the Confidential Informant’s tip and Jimenez’s experience with armed suspects. The trial court accordingly denied the Defendant’s motion, and the Defendant entered a plea of guilty afterwards. Next, the Defendant appealed from the denial of his motion to suppress evidence seized without a warrant, and the Appellate Court of New Jersey affirmed. The Appellate Court held that the Defendant was not seized prior to Jimenez witnessing the gun, as Defendant was still manipulating the gun in his waistband as the officers’ vehicles were still approaching the building.
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