Police officers set up a controlled buy of crack cocaine outside of an apartment complex in Lexington, Kentucky. Undercover Officer Gibbons watch a deal between a suspected drug dealer take place from an unmarked police car in a nearby parking lot. Once the deal took place, Officer Gibbons radioed uniformed officers to move in on the suspect. Officer Gibbons noticed the suspect moving at a fast pace and urged officers to “hurry up” and to move “quickly” before the suspect entered the apartment. Uniformed officers drove to a near by parking lot where they left their vehicles and ran towards the breezeway.
Once they entered the breezeway, the officers heard a door shut and smelled a strong odor of marijuana. When the officers proceeded towards the end of the breezeway, they saw two apartments, but did not know which one the suspect entered. Officer Gibbons claimed to have radioed that the suspect was inside the apartment on the right, but officers did not hear the radio call since they left their vehicles, but smelled an odor of marijuana inside the apartment on the right. One of the uniformed officers, Officer Steven Cobb approached the door of the apartment on the left, and announced, “this is the police” or “police, police, police” loudly.
Once they identified themselves they heard people inside moving. The apparent sound was as if “things were being moved around the apartment, which lead Officer Cobb to believe that evidence was going to be destroyed. The officers announced they were going into the apartment, in which Cobb kicked the door in and the officers entered the apartment.
Inside the apartment, three people were found in front of the room; Hollis King, girlfriend and a guest who was smoking marijuana. Officers ...
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The court identified several exigencies that may identify warrantless searches of a home; emergency aid, hot pursuit of a fleeing suspect, and to prevent the imminent destruction of evidence, in which applies to this case. Destruction of evidence issues commonly occurs in drug cases because drugs can easily be destroyed, one example being that drugs can either be flushed down a toilet or a drain, so suspects can avoid capture or apprehension. If exigent circumstances apply police may only seize what is in plain view and must obtain a warrant to search the rest of the premises. In this case no evidence was found that the officers violated the Fourth Amendment or threatened to do so. Occupants who chose no to stand on their own constitutional rights and attempt to destroy evidence can only blame themselves for the exigent circumstances search they caused.
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