United States Court of Appeals, District of Columbia Circuit
Argued January 17, 2014.
Appeal fro the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. (No. 1:08-cr-00235-1).
Lisa B. Wright, Assistant Federal Public Defender, argued the cause for appellant. With her on the briefs was A.J. Kramer, Federal Public Defender.
Margaret E. Barr, Assistant U.S. Attorney, argued the cause for appellee. With her on the briefs were Ronald C. Machen Jr., U.S. Attorney, and Elizabeth Trosman and David B. Kent, Assistant U.S. Attorneys..
Before: TATEL, Circuit Judge, and EDWARDS and WILLIAMS, Senior Circuit Judges.
Williams, Senior Circuit Judge:
While waiting to execute a search warrant at the home of an arrested murder suspect, police saw defendant Eric Brodie leave the house. They pulled up to Brodie, who was by then on the sidewalk a few houses away from the house to be searched; they ordered him to put his hands on a nearby car. Brodie obeyed. A few seconds later, he fled. Before being caught, he jettisoned three weapons, and in a pat down the officers recovered crack cocaine.
The government advances three alternative arguments as to why the weapons and crack need not be suppressed under the Fourth Amendment: (1) Brodie's putting his hands on the car for a few seconds did not amount to submission to the police, so no seizure occurred; (2) any seizure was reasonable because it was conducted in the execution of a valid search warrant; and (3) Brodie's flight and abandonment of the weapons purged the taint of any illegal seizure. Controlling authorities compel us to reject all three and therefore to reverse the judgment of conviction.
* * *
We begin with a brief account of the facts before exploring their relation to the government's three arguments. In anticipation of executing a search warrant at the townhouse of Jerome Earles, a murder suspect in police custody, two officers parked their car around the corner from the house, waiting to be joined by homicide detectives. A few minutes later, Deputy Marshal Clark saw Brodie leave the townhouse. According to Clark, Brodie " looked... [h]inked up" when he saw the officers but continued to walk down the sidewalk, away from the townhouse and toward the corner where the officers were parked. Because Brodie had left the house they planned to search, the officers (presumably suspecting he might be in cahoots with Earles) decided to stop and identify him. They pulled their car parallel to Brodie (who was now two townhouses away from Earles's); Clark got out of the car and told Brodie to put his hands on a nearby car. Brodie complied. But when Clark turned a few seconds later to give an instruction to his partner, Brodie took off. As the officers chased him he discarded three guns and finally dropped to the ground when an officer threatened to tase him. He proved to be in possession of crack cocaine.
The district court denied Brodie's motion to suppress the evidence of weapons and crack. ...