Our client was leaving a friend’s apartment in the Bromley-Heath Housing Development when he was approached by two officers of the Boston Police Department’s Youth Violence Strike Force (formerly known as the “Gang Unit”). The officers were looking for a group of teens that had just moments ago ran away upon seeing the officers. Our client was asked to “hold up a second” so that the officers could speak with them. One officers stood in front of him while the other stood behind him, blocking the door that our client just came out of. Without our client’s consent, the officer searched our client and recovered a loaded revolver.
During the hearing, the officers testified that they approached our client because they believed he was with the group of teens that were running from them moments before. They testified that our client was using his finger to eat from a cup of Jiff peanut butter. They asked him to stop and talk to them, and to keep his hands out of his pockets. Both officers testified that our client complied with their orders.
I like peanut butter.
One of the officers asked our client whether he wanted any Ritz crackers with his peanut butter, at which point our client responded by saying “I like peanut butter.” The officers characterized this as a very strange response, which caused their suspicion to be raised as to what our client might have on him. One of the officers reached for our client’s waist and told him he was just going to pat him down. Our client moved his waist away from the officer’s hand, and told them he did not want to be touched. The other officer then came in closer as his partner continued to grab and pat frisk our client, ultimately finding a loaded revolver in his waistband.
Our motion to suppress the gun was allowed by the judge, who ruled that the officers were not justified in stopping our client. The judge ruled that our client was seized by the officers as soon as they blocked our client’s path, and became clear that our client could not just walk away.
Without the gun, the prosecution would not be able to prosecute our client, so they dismissed the charges of Carrying a Firearm Without a License (18-month mandatory minimum), Possession of Ammunition Without an FID Card, Carrying a Loaded Firearm without a License (up to 2 1/2 years in the house of correction, to be served after the mandatory minimum 18-month sentence for Carrying a Firearm Without a License), and Trespassing.