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Nassau County Court Hears Defendant’s Motion to Suppress in Dog Bite Case


The plaintiff in this case is the People of the State of New York. The defendant of the case is Merwin R. Belcher, Jr. The case is being heard in the Special Term part 1 of the Nassau County Court. The People are represented by William Cahn, the Nassau County District Attorney. The defendant is represented by William Richter. The judge overseeing the case is Albert A Oppido.

Motion Before the Court

The defendant has moved for an order that would suppress specific tangible evidence in his case. The People argue that the search and seizure to obtain this evidence was legal and incidental to an arrest that was lawful.

Case Facts

On the 19th of September at around 7:30 p.m. Officer Rogers and his partner went to the home of the defendant. The reason for this visit was to investigate a complaint from one of the defendant’s neighbors about a dog bite.

The officers arrived at the home and knocked on the door. There was no answer at first, but then a light came on and Mr. Belcher came to the door. However, he did not open the door, but turned and walked towards the interior of the home. The officer states that he called out that he wanted to talk to him. The officers went to the side of the house and heard a voice saying “where are you?” The officers then returned to the front of the home and saw the defendant standing on the porch holding a shotgun. The defendant was waving the shotgun back and forth and had it aimed at the officers.

Officer Rogers told the defendant that he just wanted to talk to him. The defendant replied that he did not have to talk to them and ordered the officers off of his property. The officers went to their patrol car and called for back up. The defendant went back inside and turned off the lights.

The first officer to come to the home was Sergeant Jorgenson. He then called for more backup and 30 officers were at the seen. An officer used a bullhorn to call to the defendant. At around 11:30 p.m. the defendant released his two dogs. Tear gas was used and there were shots fired. The defendant was shot in the shoulder. The defendant was arrested and taken to the hospital.

Once the defendant had left, officer’s proceeded to search his home. During the search two shotguns were obtained. The officers did not have a search warrant or an arrest warrant. They also did not conduct the search with the consent of the defendant.

Course Discussion and Decision

The defendant argues that he was arrested unlawfully. He states that threatening the officers was not a crime as he was only protecting his property.

In many cases it is found to be unlawful for officers to search a home. However, the officers initially came to the home to investigate a complaint about a dog bite. Vicious dogs might disrupt the health and safety of the public.

After reviewing the case it is found that the arrest was lawful as the officers had entered the property peacefully. However, the court feels that the search was not lawful as the shotguns were no longer in possession of the defendant.

The court rules in favor of the defendant and the motion to suppress specific tangible evidence is granted.

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