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Commonwealth v. Suriel

Appeals Court of Massachusetts, Hampden

May 26, 2017

COMMONWEALTH
v.
JUAN G. SURIEL.

          Heard: March 1, 2017

         Complaint received and sworn to in the Springfield Division of the District Court Department on December 2, 2013.

         A pretrial motion to suppress evidence was heard by Robert A. Gordon, J., and the case was tried before Charles W. Groce, III, J.

          William M. Driscoll for the defendant.

          Kelsey A. Baran, Assistant District Attorney, for the Commonwealth.

          Present: Green, Wolohojian, & Sullivan, JJ.

          SULLIVAN, J.

         The defendant, Juan G. Suriel, appeals from his convictions of possession of a firearm without a license in violation of G. L. c. 269, § 10 (a.), and possession of ammunition without a firearm identification card in violation of G. L. c. 269, § 10(h) (1) -[1] He contends that his motion to suppress should have been allowed because the police lacked reasonable suspicion to conduct an investigatory stop. We affirm.

         Background.

         We recite the motion judge's factual findings, supplemented by uncontroverted evidence in the record that is consistent with those findings. See Commonwealth v. Edwards, 476 Mass. 341, 342 (2017). On November 30, 2013, at about 5:30 P..M., a police officer from the narcotics division of the Springfield police department was surveilling a local barbershop. The narcotics officer was parked across the street from the barbershop, in the parking lot of Springfield Technical Community College on State Street. At around 6:20 P..M., the narcotics officer saw two men go into the barbershop. A short time later, another man, later identified as codefendant Glidden Gotay, went into the barbershop holding a blue bag. The three men were talking by the front door and a fourth man, later identified as the defendant, joined the conversation. The men then went into a back area of the barbershop, out of sight of the narcotics officer. Within a short period of time, the four men came out of the barbershop, walked about ten to fifteen feet down the driveway next to the barbershop, and began to talk.[2]Another man, later identified as codefendant Jose L. Vicente, remained at the head of the driveway near the street and sidewalk. The narcotics officer then saw Gotay hand a gun to one of the two men, who handed it back to Gotay. Gotay next handed the gun to the defendant. The defendant then put the gun inside his jacket. The entire transaction took a matter of seconds.

         The men then went their separate ways in separate cars. The defendant drove away in a car (a Saturn), operated by Vicente. While observing the meet-up, the narcotics officer had given support officers a running description of what he saw, including the make, model, color, and license plate of the Saturn.

         When support officers spotted the Saturn, they pulled in front of it, positioning the unmarked cruiser so that the Saturn had to stop. When one of the support officers approached the Saturn, he noticed the defendant "looking down to his right, and gesturing feverishly to the right side of his seat with his arm." That officer shouted for the defendant to show his hands. The defendant made eye contact with the officer, while still reaching down to the right side. The support officer continued to approach the Saturn and, with the help of another support officer, "extracted" the defendant from the car. A search of the Saturn revealed a .22 caliber Smith & Wesson firearm in the passenger side compartment and a magazine on the passenger side floorboard.

         Discussion.

         Motion ...


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