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Commonwealth v. Gordon

Appeals Court of Massachusetts, Essex

May 5, 2015

Commonwealth
v.
James A. Gordon

Argued November 14, 2014.

[As Modified on May 15, 2015]

Complaint received and sworn to in the Peabody Division of the District Court Department on May 17, 2012.

A pretrial motion to suppress evidence was heard by Richard A. Mori, J.

An application for leave to prosecute an interlocutory appeal was allowed by Barbara A. Lenk, J., in the Supreme Judicial Court for the county of Suffolk, and the appeal was reported by her to the Appeals Court.

Ronald DeRosa, Assistant District Attorney, for the Commonwealth.

Jane D. Prince for the defendant.

Present: Trainor, Agnes, & Maldonado, JJ.

OPINION

Agnes, J.

In this case we consider whether the emergency aid exception to the warrant requirement justified the conduct of Peabody police officers who responded to a 911 telephone call about a disturbance in a particular apartment on Washington Street and then, based on additional information gathered at the

Page 323

scene, entered the apartment without a warrant. We conclude that the police had an objectively reasonable basis to conclude that the person who requested police assistance might be inside the apartment and in need of emergency aid, and that the warrantless entry did not violate the defendant's rights under the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution or art. 14 of the Massachusetts Declaration of Rights. Accordingly, we reverse the order allowing the defendant's motion to suppress evidence seized as a result of the execution of a search warrant following the warrantless entry.[1]

Background.

We draw the facts from the judge's findings of fact, and additional evidence from the two witnesses (Officer Coup and Sergeant Zampitella) who testified at the hearing on the motion to suppress, and who were credited by the judge.[2] At approximately 8:20 p.m. on May 9, 2012, an unidentified female telephoned the Peabody police department on its recorded 911 telephone line from Paddy Kelly's bar (bar), located at 154 Washington Street. The bar is part of a building that contains three residential apartments.[3] The caller reported a disturbance in apartment number one. Peabody police Officers Coup and Cecil, as well as Sergeant ...


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