Private search doctrine doesn’t allow repairman to consent to police search

State v. Eisfeldt, Washington Supreme Court, Docket No. 79947-4, issued June 5, 2008

A repairman was called by a homeowner to repair a diesel spill in the home’s living room. A key was left under the mat for the repairman. The repairman went to the attached garage to ventilate the fumes, noticed sealant around the garage door, and broke the sealant to gain entry to the garage. He noticed what he believed was evidence of a marijuana grow operation, became suspicious, and contacted the police. He showed detective the diesel spill in the living room and the suspicious items in the garage. The detectives stopped the search and obtained a search warrant for the home. The police found what they believed was evidence of a marijuana grow operation.

[Read more…]

Seizure of “suspicious” suspect at bus shelter unlawful; no evidence of criminal activity

State v. Gatewood, Washington Supreme Court, Docket No. 79992-0, filed May 1, 2008

Shortly after midnight, police in a patrol vehicle drove past Mr. Gatewood seated at a bus shelter on Rainier Avenue in Seattle and saw that his eyes got big when he saw them. Police observed Mr. Gatewood twist his body as though he were trying to hide something. Police circled back to the bus shelter to contact Mr. Gatewood, but he had left the bus shelter and was walking away. The police car followed Mr. Gatewood, pulled in front of him blocking his path, and an officer told him, “Stop. I want to talk to you.” Mr. Gatewood turned and walked away. When he got to some bushes, he bent over, reached into his waistband, took something out, and threw it in the bushes. Police ordered him to show his hands. He complied and was handcuffed. The police found a loaded handgun in the bushes. Police also found marijuana on Mr. Gatewood and found cocaine back at the bus shelter.

[Read more…]