Heard: September 6, 2016.
found and returned in the Superior Court Department on April
pretrial motion to suppress evidence was heard by Kenneth W.
application for leave to prosecute an interlocutory appeal
was allowed by Botsford, J., in the Supreme Judicial
Court for the county of Suffolk, and the appeal was reported
by her to the Appeals Court. After review by the Appeals
Court, the Supreme Judicial Court granted leave to obtain
further appellate review.
L. Johnson for the defendant.
Matthew T. Sears, Assistant District Attorney, for the
Present: Gants, C.J., Botsford, Lenk, Hines, Gaziano, Lowy,
& Budd, JJ.
defendant, Joshua Edwards, has been indicted for multiple
offenses, including firearms offenses, with which he was
initially charged following the seizure and search of a motor
vehicle he had been driving. Before trial, he moved to
suppress evidence seized during the search of the vehicle,
invoking the Fourth Amendment to the United States
Constitution and art. 14 of the Massachusetts Declaration of
Rights. After an evidentiary hearing, a Superior Court judge
allowed the defendant's motion. A single justice of this
court allowed the Commonwealth leave to pursue an
interlocutory appeal and reported the case to the Appeals
Court. See Mass. R. Crim. P. 15 (a) (2), as appearing in 422
Mass. 1501 (1996). The Appeals Court reversed in an
unpublished memorandum and order issued pursuant to its rule
1:28. Commonwealth v. Edwards, 87 Mass.App.Ct. 1133
(2015). We granted the defendant's application for
further appellate review. Recognizing that this is an
exceedingly close case, we conclude that the stop was
predicated on reasonable suspicion of criminal activity and
therefore reverse the motion judge's order allowing the
motion to suppress.
witness, Boston police Officer David Lanteigne, testified at
the hearing on the motion to suppress. In addition, a number
of photographs, documents, and police radio transmissions, as
well as a recording of a 911 call, were received in evidence.
In reviewing a judge's decision on a motion to suppress,
we "accept the judge's subsidiary findings of fact
absent clear error, but conduct an independent review of the
judge's ultimate findings and conclusions of law."
Commonwealth v. Washington, 449 Mass. 476, 480
(2007). Without "detract[ing] from the judge's
ultimate findings, " Commonwealth v. Jessup,
471 Mass. 121, 127-128 (2015), we supplement his factual
findings with "evidence from the record that 'is
uncontroverted and undisputed and where the judge explicitly
or implicitly credited the witness's testimony'"
(citation omitted). Commonwealth v. Jones-Pannell,
472 Mass. 429, 431 (2015).
March 17, 2013, at approximately 1:30 A.M., the Boston police
received a 911 call. The caller identified himself by name,
Jabari Wattley, and told the operator that he could see a man
standing in the street holding a gun. Wattley further stated
that he had seen the man drive off in a black Infiniti motor
vehicle, return and park on Armandine Street (in the
Dorchester section of Boston), get out of the vehicle holding
a gun in his hand, and then get back into the
vehicle. He informed the operator that he knew
the man, identified him as the defendant, Joshua Edwards, and
said that Edwards was not threatening anyone.
police dispatcher broadcast the information as a
"Priority 1" call, requesting "any unit
nearby" to respond to the address. A call coded as
"Priority 1" "means that it was of a serious
nature and that response time and protecting officer safety
were both high priorities." A marked cruiser driven by
Lanteigne arrived on Armandine Street shortly after the
broadcast. The cruiser did not have its emergency
lights activated. Lanteigne stopped when a man (later
identified as Wattley) ran off his porch toward the cruiser
and began "yelling" to Lanteigne and pointing at a
black Acura motor vehicle that was parked twenty to thirty
feet in front of the cruiser, on the right hand side of the
Acura was legally parked very close to the curb, and was
completely dark; no interior or external lights were on.
Another vehicle was parked in front of the Acura, but the
space or spaces behind it were empty. At that point,
Lanteigne observed the Acura's brake lights illuminate,
and Wattley yelled something to the effect of,
"That's him. That's the guy, he's about to
drive away." In response, Lanteigne activated the
cruiser's blue lights, strobe lights, and other lights,
and moved the cruiser alongside the driver's side of the
Acura in order to block the vehicle from leaving. Lanteigne
believed "the Acura was about to drive away . . . [and]
understood that the person Wattley had seen with a handgun
was driving the Acura. "
got out of the cruiser and removed his firearm from its
holster. At the same time, the defendant got out of the Acura
and closed the door. He "appeared to take no notice of
and pay no attention to" Lanteigne, and started to walk
away. Lanteigne responded by running to the front of his
cruiser and ordering the defendant to stop. When the
defendant turned and started walking away quickly, the
officer holstered his own weapon, pushed the ...