United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Central Division, Lexington
OPINION AND ORDER
KAREN K. CALDWELL, CHIEF JUDGE.
matter is before the Court on the motion to suppress by the
defendant Eddie Paul Harris. Harris moved for a suppression
hearing on the Friday before the Monday that trial was set to
begin. Nevertheless, the Court conducted a suppression
hearing on the morning of trial at which both parties were
offered the opportunity to present evidence and argument.
is charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm. He
moves to suppress the sawed-off shotgun that forms the basis
for his charge and also moves to suppress certain statements
he made to law enforcement officers after he was arrested
regarding the location of the gun.
has a violent criminal history, including two murder
convictions. At the time of his arrest, he was on probation
and under the supervision of state probation officers.
Harris's probation officer, Michael Roberts, testified
that Harris was considered a high-risk supervisee.
condition of his release, Harris agreed that he was subject
to search and seizure without a warrant if his probation
officer should have reasonable suspicion that he may have
contraband on his person or property. Harris also agreed that
he would not violate any state law and that, if he were to be
arrested, cited, or questioned by a law enforcement officer,
he would report that information to his probation officer.
Officer Roberts testified that, in December 2015, Harris
informed him that he had been charged with menacing. Officer
Roberts learned that the charge came after Harris allegedly
drove into the driveway of another individual and pulled out
a shotgun. After learning of the menacing charge, Officer
Roberts instructed Harris to report to the probation office.
Harris did not do so. Accordingly, Officer Roberts obtained a
bench warrant for Harris's arrest from a state court
judge. The warrant commanded officers to arrest Harris at 450
Sims Rd., Hustonville, Kentucky.
of Harris's violent criminal history, the probation
officer requested the assistance of the county sheriff in
effecting Harris's arrest. The sheriff's office was
also concerned about safety and contacted the Kentucky State
Police (KSP), which has a special unit equipped to handle
high-risk situations. Despite the fact that Harris had agreed
as a condition of his probation to a search of his person and
residence upon reasonable suspicion of contraband, the KSP
followed its own administrative requirements and obtained a
search warrant prior to proceeding to Harris's residence
to effect the arrest.
KSP law enforcement officers arrived at Harris's
residence and pulled into the driveway. Detective Monte Owens
testified that he immediately announced over a loudspeaker
that the officers were with the Kentucky State Police and had
a warrant for Harris's arrest. He instructed Harris to
exit the house. Detective Owens testified that there was no
response. Accordingly, the KSP deployed “flash bangs,
” which consist of loud noises and flashes of light, in
order to get the attention of the occupants of the residence
and to ensure they were aware the officers were outside.
female, later identified as Geraldine Hodge, exited the
house. KSP Sergeant William Shuffett testified that Hodges
stated that Harris was inside, loading a shotgun. The
officers then deployed tear gas and, a short time later,
Harris exited the residence and he was arrested. After he was
handcuffed, Harris told the officers that, if they had not
deployed tear gas, he would have come out shooting. The
arresting officers testified that Harris was talking
excitedly and made unsolicited statements regarding the
location of the shotgun. Detective Owens testified that
Harris was “talking up a storm” and indicated he
had a shotgun in the bedroom. After detaining Harris,
officers entered the residence to do a sweep to determine if
any other occupants were inside. They found no other
occupants. Officers then reentered the building and retrieved
the shotgun at issue in this case.
moves to suppress the shotgun and his statement after he was
arrested regarding the location of the shotgun. As to the
statement, he argues that, prior to him making it, the
officers did recite the warnings required by Miranda v.
Arizona, 384 U.S. 436 (1966). Under Miranda,
prosecutors cannot use statements made by an individual in
custody unless, prior to any questioning, police officers
give the individuals certain warnings to secure the privilege
against self-incrimination. Miranda v. Arizona, 384
U.S. 436, 444 (1966).
Court explained at the hearing, there is no evidence that any
officer asked Harris any question prior to his statements
regarding the location of the shotgun. The officers testified
that Harris was talking excitedly and spontaneously uttered
the statement immediately after being handcuffed.
Accordingly, the officers were not required to give Harris
Miranda warnings prior to the statement and it will
not be suppressed.
the officers' retrieval of the shotgun, Harris argued
during the hearing that the search warrant that the KSP
obtained was invalid. For the reasons stated on the record,
the Court found that the KSP search warrant was valid and
that, if not, the search was supported by the good-faith
exception to the warrant requirement under United States
v. Leon, 468 U.S. 897, 925 (1984). Under Leon,
“[c]ourts should not . . . suppress evidence obtained
in objectively reasonable reliance on a subsequently
invalidated search warrant.'” United States v.
Carpenter, 360 F.3d 591, 595 (6th Cir.2004)
importantly, however, the Court found that the validity of
the KSP search warrant was immaterial. As a condition for
probation, Harris had specifically consented to the
warrantless search of his person and residence anytime his
probation officer should have a reasonable suspicion that
contraband would be found there. Probation Officer Roberts
was aware that Harris had a violent criminal history -
including murder and armed robbery. Further, he had most
recently been charged with menacing another individual while
in possession of a shotgun. After the menacing charge, Harris
had failed to report to the probation office as instructed to
and in violation of the conditions of his release. Upon
exiting the residence on the day of Harris's arrest,
Hodges stated that Harris had a shotgun inside the residence.
This certainly constituted reasonable suspicion that a
firearm would be located at Harris's residence or on his
these reasons and those stated on the record at the hearing
on this matter, the Court hereby ORDERS that ...