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Teen’s adjudications overturned based on unlawful search

March 11, 2015

An Indianapolis teenager suspected in two burglaries was subject to an unlawful pat down and search by an officer, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled. As such, the gun found on him should not have been admissible at his delinquency hearing.

Police went to the home of Brian Smith after learning that D.Y., who was suspected of breaking into the Smiths’ home while they were on vacation and at least one other burglary, was on his way to the Smiths’ house. Smith believed D.Y. may have broken into his home because he knew the couple would be on vacation.

Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department officer Sydney McDaniel arrived at the home and explained to 16-year-old D.Y. that he was transporting him to the IMPD’s district roll call for a burglary investigation and that he was a possible suspect. McDaniel then searched D.Y. and found an unloaded gun on him. D.Y. was later adjudicated as a delinquent child for committing what would be Class A misdemeanors dangerous possession of a firearm and carrying a handgun without a license.

D.Y. had objected to the admission of the gun, but the juvenile court denied his motion to suppress.

In D.Y. v. State of Indiana, 49A02-1405-JV-298, the appeals court determined McDaniel’s actions amounted to a seizure of D.Y. He did not ask D.Y. if he would accompany him to the station, and he did not give the teen the option to meet him at the police station independently. Instead, a reasonable person could have concluded that the officer’s transport of D.Y. to the district roll call was mandatory rather than option. In addition, it doesn’t appear the officer ever contacted D.Y.’s parents.

“As the State admits that Officer McDaniel did not have probable cause or a warrant to arrest D.Y., his seizure of D.Y. violated the Fourth Amendment, and his subsequent pat down was unlawful. Officer McDaniel therefore discovered the firearm pursuant to an unlawful search, and it was inadmissible at D.Y.’s hearing,” Judge Rudolph Pyle III wrote.

“Because the firearm was an essential element of D.Y.’s charges, we reverse and remand with instructions for the juvenile court to vacate its true findings and D.Y.’s adjudication as a delinquent child.”


 

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