State v. Castillo-Lima

Summarized by:

  • Court: Oregon Court of Appeals
  • Area(s) of Law: Criminal Law
  • Date Filed: 09-30-2015
  • Case #: A152978
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Armstrong, P.J. for the Court; Nakamoto, J.; & Egan, J.
  • Full Text Opinion

A police officer's search of a criminal suspect's pockets must be supported by something more than reasonable suspicion. Further, in making snap decisions in the heat of the moment, police officers are to be granted considerable latitude to take reasonable safety precautions.

Defendant appealed the trial court's denial of his motion to suppress evidence, arguing that the scope of the search incident to the arrest was not justified by legitimate concerns for the officer's safety. Officer Wolfe responded to a report of a fight at a bar involving at least seven individuals. Upon arrival, the fight had dispersed. Later that evening, Officer Wolfe returned to the scene of the fight. Accompanied by his police dog, Officer Wolfe investigated the surrounding area. Officer Wolfe heard shouting and returned to the bar to find Defendant. Officer Wolfe repeatedly ordered Defendant to the ground, and, after being threatened with a bite from the police dog, Defendant complied. Officer Wolfe noticed the handle of a gun in Defendant's waistband, which Officer Wolfe immediately tossed aside. As he did this, Officer Wolfe discovered that the gun was fake. Defendant was arrested and put in the squad car, where the officers searched Defendant's pockets, revealing a bag of cocaine. The trial court denied Defendant's motion to suppress this evidence. On review, Defendant argued that the officers were not justified in performing a search incident to arrest, as the officers would be unreasonable to believe that Defendant's pockets contained weapons or means for escape, because Defendant had carried a fake gun. The State argued that the search was justified, in that they had responded to a call for a violent interaction between multiple individuals, and other fighters may have been present. The Court agreed with the State, finding that the totality of circumstances supported more than reasonable suspicion, permitting the officers to search Defendant's pockets in the heat of the moment. Affirmed.

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