Colorado v. Pappan

The State brought this interlocutory appeal seeking review of a trial court’s order suppressing evidence of two laser-sight rifles seized during a warrantless search of defendant Michael Pappan’s residence. Around 6:40 in the evening, an individual called 911 to report that he observed a man in the green house directly across the street pointing a laser-sight rifle at him. Apparently scared for his safety, after requesting assistance, the 911 caller left his residence in his car and parked nearby. Police arrived to investigate and speak to the residents of the house from which the laser-sight was witnessed; officers asked Pappan to come out of the house to speak with them on the porch of the house. Because he disregarded an officer's commands while on the porch, he was placed in handcuffs and detained. Concerned for their safety, the officers “cleared” the house for other occupants. They made a peaceable entry into the house, albeit with their guns drawn. Inside, in an upstairs room, they saw in plain view and collected two laser-sight rifles. Pappan was subsequently charged with felony menacing, reckless endangerment, and disorderly conduct. Following a pretrial hearing, the trial court granted Pappan’s motion to suppress evidence obtained during the search of his home, finding that “it would have been better practice for the police to obtain a search warrant.” The Colorado Supreme Court reversed the trial court’s suppression order, finding the officers’ warrantless search was justified by exigent circumstances. More specifically, the Court concluded: (1) the officers had an objectively reasonable basis to believe there was an immediate need to protect their lives or safety; and (2) the manner and scope of the search was reasonable. Furthermore, the Court held the warrantless seizure of the laser-sight rifles was justified by the plain view doctrine. View "Colorado v. Pappan" on Justia Law