United States v. Curry, No. 18-4233 (4th Cir. 2020)Annotate this Case
On rehearing en banc, at issue was whether the Fourth Amendment's exigent circumstances doctrine justified the suspicionless seizure of defendant. In this case, the police seized defendant responding to several gunshots that were fired in or near an apartment complex less than a minute earlier. When the police arrived at the scene, they encountered five to eight men, including defendant, calmly and separately walking in the public area behind the complex, as well as several other people standing around closer to the apartments and another man walking toward the rear of the officers' patrol car.
The court held that the stop was not justified by exigent circumstances and thus was not reasonable under the Fourth Amendment. Therefore, the court affirmed the district court's grant of defendant's motion to suppress a firearm and other evidence based on the unreasonableness of the seizure that led to its discovery. The court explained that, to hold otherwise would create a sweeping exception to Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1 (1968). The court stated that the exigent circumstances exception may permit suspicionless seizures when officers can narrowly target the seizures based on specific information of a known crime and a controlled geographic area. The court further stated that, by allowing officers to bypass the individualized suspicion requirement based on the information they had here—the sound of gunfire and the general location where it may have originated—would completely cripple a fundamental Fourth Amendment protection and create a dangerous precedent.
This opinion or order relates to an opinion or order originally issued on September 5, 2019.