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COA: Exigent circumstances justified warrantless search

January 19, 2017

An Indiana State Police detective did not violate a man’s constitutional rights when he searched a bag in the man’s vehicle without a warrant because there were exigent circumstances that made the warrantless search reasonable, the Indiana Court of Appeals held Thursday.

In Daniel Ray Holloway v. State of Indiana, 59A01-1604-CR-745, Harrison County Sheriff’s Deputy Michael Andry was following a vehicle driven by Daniel Holloway when Holloway refused to pull over and initiated a nearly one-hour chase reaching speeds of more than 100 miles per hour.

After reaching a dead end, Andry exited his vehicle, believing that Holloway would attempt to escape on foot. But Holloway instead chose to make a U-turn and began driving toward Andry, striking him and, as a result of the impact, accidentally discharging his gun.  The driver then “revv(ed) the motor up,” so Andry intentionally shot the gun three more times, resulting in Holloway suffering injuries to both of his hands before finally stopping his vehicle.

When other officers arrived on the scene, one of the three passengers in the vehicle admitted to police that “there may be something methamphetamine related in the vehicle.” State Police detective Paul Andry discovered a meth pipe lying in the snow and chemicals commonly used to manufacture meth in a zipped bag in the vehicle. After obtaining a search warrant, police discovered several additional items commonly used to make meth, four baggies of meth, a baggie containing a substance that appeared to be marijuana and meth residue on a coffee filter.

Holloway was charged with attempted murder, dealing in meth, maintaining a common nuisance, possession of chemical reagents or precursors with intent to manufacture a controlled substance and resisting law enforcement, all felonies, and misdemeanor criminal recklessness. He was also alleged to be an habitual substance abuse offender.

At his trial, Holloway objected to the admission of evidence found in the bag that Detective Andry had searched without a warrant, but the detective told the court that he knew all three individuals in the Honda from prior investigations and had been working on an active investigation that included them when he responded to the instant case, so he was afraid there was a mobile meth lab in the car.

The trial court overruled Holloway’s objection, finding that public safety concerns justified the search under the exigent circumstances and custodial arrest exceptions to the prohibition on warrantless searches. Holloway was acquitted of attempted murder but was found guilty on all other charges, prompting his appeal of his dealing in meth, maintaining a common nuisance and possession of chemical reagents convictions.

A panel of the Indiana Court of Appeals agreed with the trial court in a Thursday opinion, with Judge Rudolph Pyle writing that because Detective Andry knew that Holloway had purchased precursors for making meth in the week leading up to the case and because he found a meth pipe in the snow, there were exigent circumstances to support his warrantless search under the Fourth Amendment.

Pyle further wrote that Holloway waived his right to a state constitutional claim because he did not present an independent analysis of his state claim under Litchfield v. State, 824 N.E.2d 356, 359 (Ind. 2005). Even without the waiver, the panel found that Detective Andry’s search was reasonable under the Litchfield factors.

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