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United States v. Pimentel

United States District Court, D. Massachusetts

August 9, 2019



          Hon. Patti B. Saris Chief United States District Judge


         Defendant Kadeem Pimentel (“Pimentel”) is charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1). The police discovered two shotguns and related paraphernalia in his third-floor bedroom while executing a search warrant at his residence. Arguing that the police exceeded the scope of the warrant by searching the third floor, he moves to suppress this physical evidence. He also moves to suppress statements about the shotguns he made during the search on the basis that an officer violated his Miranda rights.

         After hearing, the Court DENIES Pimentel's motion to suppress (Docket No. 20).


         I. 88 Fountain Street

          Pimentel has resided with his family at 88 Fountain Street in Haverhill, Massachusetts for most of his life. Ex. 6 ¶ 4 (“Aff.”). 88 Fountain Street is a three-story building owned by Jean Carmen Pimentel and Mathieu Dorestant, Pimentel's grandfather and great-uncle, respectively. Dkt. No. 33 at 11:12-24, 12:18-23 (“Tr.”). The main entrance through the front door has three mailboxes and doorbells. Tr. at 13:20-14:15; Exs. 1B, 1C. Off the common hallway on the first floor is a door with a lock that leads into a living space. Tr. at 43:2-11; Ex. 3. A common flight of stairs leads to the second floor, which has a door with a lock that opens into a second living space. Tr. at 26:16-20; Ex. 3. Another flight of stairs in the common area goes to the third floor and a third door with a lock, behind which is a third living area. Tr. at 26:16-20, 30:17-21, 45:11-24; Exs. 1L, 3. This third-floor living area has its own kitchen and living room and was at one time rented out to a family from the Pimentels' church. Tr. at 19:21-20:21, 24:8-23, 51:3-10; Exs. 1H, 1I, 1O. The back door of the building opens into a common staircase with doors at the rear of the second and third-floor living spaces. Tr. at 30:6-16; Ex. 3. These rear doors are not always kept locked. Tr. at 47:25-48:9, 60:5-14.

         At the time of the search, Dorestant lived in the unit on the first floor, and his name was on the first-floor mailbox. Tr. at 14:23-15:18; Ex. 1D. Members of the Pimentel family, including Pimentel's grandmother and mother, resided on the second floor. Tr. at 17:25-18:3, 36:1-8, 65:19-25. The third floor had at least three residents: Pimentel in one bedroom and Diana Pimentel (his aunt) and her boyfriend in the other.[1] Tr. at 11:25-12:3, 26:3-9, 31:14-22, 32:6-9, 50:17-23. Before moving to the third floor shortly before the search, Pimentel lived in a room off the common rear hallway on the second floor, which neither party claims to be its own unit. Tr. at 54:23-21; Ex. 3; Aff. ¶ 4. Pimentel and Diana Pimentel were paying separate gas and electric bills for the third floor but not rent. Tr. at 21:1-23:6, 32:12-23; Ex. 2. Although Diana Pimentel lived on the third floor, her name was on the second-floor mailbox so that her mother could collect the mail for her when she was out. Tr. at 16:15-17:15.

         II. Pre-Search Investigation

         On the evening of August 30, 2018, the Haverhill Police Department (“HPD”) received a call that Pimentel had been shot in front of 88 Fountain Street. Dkt. No. 20-1 at 1 (“Report”).

         The police arrived at the scene, and Pimentel reported that he had been shot at while sitting in a truck by a male in a passing car. Id. The right leg of Pimentel's shorts was shredded, and he had bloody bruises on his right thigh. Id.

         As Pimentel was receiving medical treatment, a neighbor approached the officers and said she had video of the incident. Id. at 2. After watching the video, the officers determined that the shot was fired from the truck in which Pimentel was sitting. Id. When the officers told Pimentel about the video, he changed his story and said another passenger in the truck had shot at him out the front passenger window. Id. The officers left the scene, and Pimentel entered 88 Fountain Street. Aff. ¶ 5.

         Two officers found Connor Shine, the owner of the truck, and asked him about the incident. Report at 3. He said Pimentel, who regularly carries a long gun in his waistband, fired the shot. Id. Based on Shine's description, the officers believed the firearm was a sawed-off shotgun. Id. They also noted that Pimentel's injuries were consistent with a downward shot from his waist. Id.

         Based on this information, Detective Dana Burrill, one of the investigating officers, applied for and received a no-knock search warrant. Tr. at 96:13-15; Ex. 4. The issued warrant listed the location to be searched as follows, in relevant part: “88 Fountain St. 2nd floor is a 3 story, multi-unit building, with a basement, numbered 88 on the left side of the front deck . . . which is occupied by and/or in possession of Kadeem Dashawn Pimentel, Maya Garrow [Pimentel's girlfriend], Diana Pimentel, and Phebe Pimentel [Pimentel's grandmother].” Ex. 4. “2nd floor” was added above the typed text in handwriting, followed by “DB” (Dana Burrill) in a circle. Tr. at 102:22-25; Ex. 4. Detective Burrill added “2nd floor” at the request of the clerk of the judge who approved the warrant because the HPD's records listed Pimentel as living on the second floor based on prior encounters with him. Tr. at 99:4-100:15, 103:1-24.

         III. Execution of Search

         About ten officers, including Detective Burrill, returned to 88 Fountain Street around 2:30 a.m. on August 31 to execute the search warrant. Tr. at 84:23-85:2, 85:11-18, 102:11-13. They knocked down the front door, proceeded up the stairs to the second floor, and knocked down the locked door to the second-floor living area. Tr. at 38:3-10, 85:19-86:15, 123:25-124:17. They secured everyone ...

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