The Indiana Court of Appeals upheld a man’s conviction of Class B felony unlawful possession of a firearm by a serious violent felon, rejecting his argument that the gun he tossed away while running from police should not have been admitted into evidence.
In Jermaine Hines v. State of Indiana, 48A02-1206-CR-442, Anderson police believed Hines may have been involved in a shooting at a gas station based on interviews with several witnesses. Police decided they wanted to talk to Hines again – he had previously denied involvement in the shooting – and saw him leaving a home on a moped that was the base for drug trafficking.
Uniformed offices in a marked car saw Hines at the gas station and called out to Hines that they wanted to speak to him. Hines sped off on his moped, later crashing it and running from police on foot. While the officers were chasing him on foot, they saw Hines throw something and heard it hit against a house. Hines tossed a .45 caliber handgun.
He was charged with resisting law enforcement and unlawful possession of a firearm by a serious violent felon, but only convicted of the firearm charge. His motion to suppress the evidence was denied.
Hines argued that the police did not have legal cause to detain him, and, as a result, he was free to decline to speak with the officers. He conceded that the firearm was abandoned, but he claimed that it was abandoned only after law enforcement officers attempted to illegally seize him, so the trial court should have denied the state’s request to admit the firearm into evidence.
Judge Rudolph Pyle III, writing for the court, concluded that the police had reasonable suspicion of criminal activity to detain Hines based on information from witnesses of the shooting, the observation that Hines left a drug house, and when officers approached him to speak, Hines fled.
The judges agreed with the state that the seizure of the firearm isn’t subject to protections of the Fourth Amendment because Hines abandoned it. The facts of the case show Hines’ intention to relinquish any possessory interest in the firearm by tossing it as he fled from the officers, Pyle wrote.