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United States v. Sosa

United States District Court, D. Massachusetts

October 22, 2019




         Defendant Ramon Sosa (“Sosa” or “defendant”) is charged with possession with intent to distribute cocaine and cocaine base, 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1) (Count I), being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition, 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1) (Count II), and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime, 18 U.S.C. § 924(c)(1)(A) (Count III). He moves to suppress a statement he made to police officers after his arrest on the ground that it was not voluntary. Following an evidentiary hearing and arguments of counsel, the motion (Docket # 59) is denied.

         I. Findings of Fact[1]

         A. Execution of Search Warrant and Arrest of Defendant

         On January 23, 2018, around 3:00 p.m., federal and state law enforcement officers arrived at an apartment in Malden, Massachusetts, to execute a search warrant and investigate Sosa's alleged drug distribution. Detective Salvatore Gennetti (“Gennetti”) and several other officers entered the apartment, while Sergeant Steven Fitzpatrick (“Fitzpatrick”) monitored the perimeter of the building from his police cruiser.

         The officers knocked on the apartment door and announced their presence. When no one answered, they forced entry. Two individuals, Ralph Bonano Jr. and Diane Shea, were in the living room. Officers searched and cleared one bedroom of the apartment and forced open the locked door to a second bedroom, which Diane Shea stated was Sosa's. No. one was inside that bedroom, but one of the officers noticed an open window and saw a man outside, walking away from the building.

         Gennetti and another officer ran out of the apartment to pursue the man. Meanwhile, Fitzpatrick noticed the man, got out of his cruiser, and gave chase. He caught up to the individual, ordered him to the ground, and recognized him as Sosa. Gennetti then handcuffed Sosa, explained that he was not under arrest, and read him his Miranda rights. When asked whether, having these rights in mind, he wished to speak with officers, Sosa replied “no.” The officers continued the search of the apartment, where they found a handgun, ammunition, and various controlled substances in the second bedroom. Then, at 3:32 p.m., officers informed Sosa that he was under arrest and transported him to the Malden Police Station.

         B. Ambulance Call and Booking Process

         When defendant arrived at the station, he began “nodding off” in the booking room, Docket # 59-1 at 4, and, according to Fitzpatrick's testimony, officers had to “nudge” defendant repeatedly to wake him up. At 4:49 p.m., Fitzpatrick called for an ambulance to assess defendant. At 4:52 p.m., while waiting for the ambulance's arrival, Fitzpatrick initiated the booking process by asking defendant for his name and address and entering the information into a computer to generate a booking report. See Docket # 59-3. At 4:56 p.m., the ambulance arrived and Emergency Medical Technician (“EMT”) Ryan McMamus (“McMamus”) examined defendant. See Docket # 59-5 at 1.

         According to the ambulance record and McMamus's testimony, defendant stated that he felt ill because he was withdrawing from heroin. Id. at 2. McMamus checked defendant's vital signs at 5:01 p.m. Defendant's blood pressure was slightly elevated, his heart rate and pulse were within normal limits, his airway was clear, and he was breathing normally. McMamus asked defendant a series of questions and determined that defendant was oriented to event, person, place, and time. Id. Defendant was also evaluated on the Glasgow Coma Scale, which measures an individual's alertness and consciousness. He received the highest scores in each category: eyes, verbal, and motor. These results, McMamus testified, indicate that defendant trained his eyes and maintained eye contact, provided appropriate verbal responses without slurring, and had full range of motion with his extremities.

         At 5:04 p.m., defendant signed a refusal of treatment and transportation form and the ambulance left. McMamus testified that “virtually” everyone assessed is offered transportation to the hospital and may refuse, unless they are not in the “right state of mind” to do so. Docket # 75 at 28-29. After leaving the Malden Police Station, McMamus summarized his interaction with defendant in an ambulance report: “[Patient] stated he did not feel nauseous and was not vomiting … Vitals were within normal limits, no sense of sweating. Crew[']s assessment revealed no abnormalities and no indications of opioid withdrawal … officer noted he would keep a closer eye on [patient] for development of symptoms.” Docket # 59-5 at 2.

         Immediately after the ambulance left, Fitzpatrick resumed the booking process. Defendant provided additional information, including his mother's maiden name, his occupation and the name of his employer, as well as the name, partial address, and telephone number of his girlfriend. Docket # 59-3 at 3. At 5:14 p.m., Fitzpatrick again read defendant his Miranda rights. Defendant orally indicated that he understood his rights and he signed a Statement of Rights form, which acknowledged these rights and stated that he wished to speak with officers. Docket # 59-4.

         Fitzpatrick next asked defendant several questions regarding his mental health. Defendant indicated that he had received psychiatric care from an unknown physician in Everett. He also stated that he had previously attempted suicide at his sister's house in Revere. Docket # 59-3 at 4.

         C. Strip Search and ...

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