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Kentucky v. King revisited
May 3, 2012 3:00 PM   Subscribe

Remember Kentucky v. King from last year? The mis-reported conclusion was that police could enter a home without a warrant to prevent destruction of evidence based on hearing movement after knocking. A week ago the supreme court of Kentucky published (pdf) its revisiting of the case given instructions from the US supreme court, and found in favor of King (via):
[W]e conclude that the Commonwealth failed to meet its burden of demonstrating exigent circumstances justifying a warrantless entry. During the suppression hearing, Officer Cobb repeatedly referred to the “possible” destruction of evidence. He stated that he heard people moving inside the apartment, and that this was “the same kind of movements we’ve heard inside” when other suspects have destroyed evidence. Cobb never articulated the specific sounds he heard which led him to believe that evidence was about to be destroyed.

In fact, the sounds as described at the suppression hearing were indistinguishable from ordinary household sounds, and were consistent with the natural and reasonable result of a knock on the door. Nothing in the record suggests that the sounds officers heard were anything more than the occupants preparing to answer the door.

The police officers’ subjective belief that evidence was being (or about to be) destroyed is not supported by the record, and this Court cannot conclude that the belief was objectively reasonable. “[N]o exigency is created simply because there is probable cause to believe that a serious crime has been committed[.]” Welsh v. Wisconsin, 466 U.S. 740, 753, 104 S.Ct. 2091, 80 L.Ed.2d 732 (1984) (citing Payton, 445 U.S. 573, 100 S.Ct. 1371, 63 L.Ed.2d 639). Exigent circumstances do not deal with mere possibilities, and the Commonwealth must show something more than a possibility that evidence is being destroyed to defeat the presumption of an unreasonable search and seizure.

Consistent with the instructions on remand from the United States Supreme Court, this Court concludes that exigent circumstances did not exist when police made a warrantless entry of the apartment occupied by Appellant King. Therefore, the denial of King’s motion to suppress evidence is reversed, and King’s judgment of conviction stands vacated.
posted by a robot made out of meat (13 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

 
Boom!
posted by holdkris99 at 3:04 PM on May 3, 2012 [4 favorites]


Good call!
posted by furiousxgeorge at 3:05 PM on May 3, 2012


If cops knocked on our door, they would hear the thunder of running feet (panicked cats), and then clomp-clomp-clomp of feet (human) going down the hall and then all the way down the stairs. There might be some swearing in there as the human feet try to avoid stepping on panicked, fleeing cats.

I wonder if these are the same sounds as evidence being destroyed.

Anyway, I'm heartened to read about the decision on this case.
posted by rtha at 3:23 PM on May 3, 2012 [2 favorites]


Tell us more about the cats. I like them already.
posted by TrialByMedia at 3:26 PM on May 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


rtha: "If cops knocked on our door"

If anyone unknown to my dog knocks on my door, you'll hear menacing barking sounds combined with the thunder of over 80 pounds of dog running towards the door at top speed followed by the sound of the dog trying and failing to stop its forward momentum before sliding into the door at speed.

It really freaks out the UPS people.
posted by wierdo at 3:30 PM on May 3, 2012 [5 favorites]


It is so strange to actually get good news about civil liberties these days.
posted by Malor at 3:37 PM on May 3, 2012 [16 favorites]


There is nothing weaker th an the oft-asserted reasoning behind exigent circumstances in most of these cases. Time to move away from a criminal model of drug addiction control.
posted by Ironmouth at 6:20 PM on May 3, 2012


I wonder how long it will be before the police have formulated a nice catch all to handle these situations, a la yelling "stop resisting" no matter what is actually happening during an arrest.
posted by I Havent Killed Anybody Since 1984 at 5:42 AM on May 4, 2012


What a happy (and surprising) read!
posted by mibo at 8:13 AM on May 4, 2012


If anyone unknown to my dog knocks on my door, you'll hear menacing barking sounds combined with the thunder of over 80 pounds of dog running towards the door at top speed followed by the sound of the dog trying and failing to stop its forward momentum before sliding into the door at speed.

It really freaks out the UPS people.


Sadly, if it's the cops they may simply shoot the dog.
posted by homunculus at 1:31 PM on May 8, 2012


If they shoot the dog through the door, I'll have a nice cause of action.
posted by wierdo at 2:31 PM on May 8, 2012


Dogs do make sympathetic plaintiffs.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 5:34 PM on May 8, 2012


Puppycides
posted by homunculus at 10:04 AM on May 12, 2012


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