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United States v. Bohannon

United States Court of Appeals, Second Circuit

May 31, 2016

United States of America, Appellant,
Jonathan Bohannon, Defendant-Appellee, Ronell Hanks, AKA Biz, AKA Ace, Jermaine Buchanan, AKA Hot Main, Rashad Heard, Omar Bahamonde, AKA Dirk, Tavar Johnson, Moyan Forbes, Eboney Wood, AKA Sis, Tysheem Wright, Sybil Hopkins, Steven Hutchinson, AKA L, Carlos Soto, AKA Machon, Yazmine Morales, D'metrius Woodward, AKA Flea, Defendants.

Argued: December 15, 2015

On appeal from a suppression order of the United States District Court for the District of Connecticut (Hall, C.J.), we consider whether defendant, apprehended pursuant to a valid arrest warrant in a third party's residence entered without search-warrant authorization, is entitled to have any evidence seized incident to arrest excluded from trial as the fruit of an unlawful entry. Like the district court and eight of our sister circuits, we here conclude that, whether the subject of an arrest warrant is apprehended in his own home or a third party's residence where he is a guest, his Fourth Amendment privacy rights with respect to entry are those stated in Payton v. New York, 445 U.S. 573, 603 (1980), i.e., at the time of entry, arresting officers must possess (a) a valid arrest warrant for the subject and (b) reason to believe that the subject is then in the premises. In such circumstances, the third party's Fourth Amendment right to have a search warrant authorize entry into his home, see Steagald v. United States, 451 U.S. 204, 222 (1981), does not extend to the subject of the arrest warrant. Where we depart from the district court, however, is in here concluding that the totality of circumstances established that, at the time of entry, law enforcement officers possessed the requisite reason to believe that defendant was then present in the third party's residence.

Tracy Lee Dayton, Assistant United States Attorney (Rahul Kale, Sandra S. Glover, Assistant United States Attorneys, on the brief), for Deirdre M. Daly, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, New Haven, Connecticut, for Appellant.

Steven B. Rasile, Law Offices of Mirto & Rasile, West Haven, Connecticut, for Defendant-Appellee.

Before: Raggi, Wesley, Droney, Circuit Judges.


Defendant Jonathan Bohannon is awaiting trial in the United States District Court for the District of Connecticut (Janet C. Hall, Chief Judge) on charges of conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute 500 grams or more of cocaine and 280 grams or more of cocaine base, see 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1), 841(b)(1)(A)(iii), 841(b)(1)(B)(ii), 846; possession with intent to distribute 280 grams or more of cocaine base, see id. §§ 841(a)(1), 841(b)(1)(A)(iii); possession of firearms and ammunition by a convicted felon, see 18 U.S.C. §§ 922(g)(1), 924(a)(2); and possession of firearms in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime, see id. § 924(c)(1)(A)(i).

On this interlocutory appeal, see 18 U.S.C. § 3731, the United States challenges the district court's December 15, 2014 order suppressing drugs and money seized incident to Bohannon's arrest in the home of Shonsai Dickson. See United States v. Bohannon, 67 F.Supp. 3d 536 (D. Conn. 2014). The district court ruled that because Bohannon's apprehension was pursuant to an arrest warrant, he could not mount a Fourth Amendment challenge to the seizures at issue based on the fact that entry into Dickson's home was not authorized by a search warrant. See Steagald v. United States, 451 U.S. 204, 222 (1981) (holding search warrant necessary to protect privacy interests of third party whose home is searched for subject of arrest warrant). Nevertheless, the district court suppressed the seized drugs and money, concluding that, at the time arresting officers entered Dickson's home, they lacked the requisite reason to believe that Bohannon was then in the premises. See Payton v. New York, 445 U.S. 573, 603 (1980) (holding that arrest warrant carries with it limited authority to enter subject's dwelling when there is "reason to believe" he is within). The government argues that the district court correctly relied on Payton, rather than Steagald, in analyzing Bohannon's Fourth Amendment challenge, but erred in concluding that the totality of circumstances failed to satisfy the reason-to- believe-presence prong of Payton. We agree for reasons set forth in this opinion and, therefore, we vacate the challenged suppression order and remand the case to the district court for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

I. Background[1]

At approximately 6:00 a.m. on December 5, 2013, law enforcement officers entered Shonsai Dickson's apartment at 34 Morgan Avenue in Bridgeport, Connecticut ("34 Morgan Avenue" or "the premises"), to execute an arrest warrant for defendant Bohannon. Other officers were simultaneously executing arrest warrants for more than a dozen of Bohannon's confederates in the Trumbull Gardens Organization ("TGO"), whose narcotics and firearms trafficking had been the focus of a two-year investigation.

A. Determination of Bohannon's Whereabouts on December 5, 2013

On December 5, 2013, officers initially planned to arrest Bohannon at 103 Crestview Drive, his Bridgeport residence. Sometime between 5:00 and 5:30 a.m., however, the investigation's lead FBI agent, Michael Zuk, concluded that Bohannon was not at his home; rather, Zuk believed that Bohannon was at Dickson's 34 Morgan Avenue apartment, approximately two miles away. Zuk's belief was based on information provided to him by fellow officers that morning, viewed in light of the totality of information gathered in the TGO investigation. See generally United States v. Garcia, 413 F.3d 201, 213 (2d Cir. 2005) (explaining that law enforcement officers may rely on "collective knowledge of their colleagues" in determining probable cause). The relevant information can be summarized as follows.

First, law enforcement officers physically surveilling 103 Crestview Drive on December 5 in anticipation of Bohannon's arrest saw "no indication" that he was in his home. Nov. 13, 2014 Hr'g Tr. ("Tr.") 15:14. In particular, they saw no rental car parked in the vicinity of 103 Crestview Drive although, from the TGO investigation, they knew that Bohannon regularly drove rental cars not registered in his name.

Second, at approximately 4:00 a.m. on December 5, cell-site information provided by Verizon Wireless pursuant to a warrant indicated that at 2:38 a.m. that same morning, Bohannon's cell phone was used in a sector of Bridgeport that did not include his 103 Crestview Drive home.

Third, the Verizon data further showed that Bohannon's cell phone— which the TGO investigation indicated was used exclusively by Bohannon—had been in active use up until 2:38 a.m., whereupon it went silent, remaining so through the time of Bohannon's arrest.

From these facts, Zuk inferred that Bohannon had retired for the night soon after 2:38 a.m. at the location where he had last used his phone, which was not his home.[2]

Fourth, the Verizon data showed that within the cell phone sector where Bohannon's cell phone was last used at 2:38 a.m. on December 5, 2013, there was only one address to which Bohannon had been linked during the TGO investigation: 34 Morgan Avenue, the location of Dickson's apartment.[3] The link was based on,

(a) Bohannon's own text messages (intercepted between September and December 2013 pursuant to court order) advising confederate Ronell Hanks that Bohannon was at or near Morgan Avenue;
(b) Bohannon's statement to authorities during an October 16, 2013 traffic stop that he was coming "from Morgan Avenue, " Tr. 12:10– 17;
(c) authorities' observations of Bohannon, after the aforementioned traffic stop, driving to the general area of 34 Morgan Avenue and walking to ...

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