Facts: In Lexington, Kentucky, police officers followed a suspected drug dealer to an apartment building where he went. When they arrived outside of the door to the apartment where the suspect was they reportedly could smell marajuana. The police then knocked and shouted they they were there and in return they could hear what sounded like people destroying the evidence and running around. The police then knocked down the door and saw the respondent as well as drugs laying out without having to look anywhere.
later the police found more drugs and paraphernalia doing a more in-depth search. “The Circuit Court denied respondent’s motion to suppress the evidence, holding that exigent circumstances—the need to prevent destruction of evidence—justified the warrantless entry. Respondent entered a conditional guilty plea, reserving his right to appeal the suppression ruling, and the Kentucky Court of Appeals affirmed. ” The Supreme Court of Kentucky also assumed that there was an exigent circumstance but it still invalidated the search.
The court stated that the police should have foreseen that their conduct would most likely result in the tenants attempting to destroy the evidence therefore they should have had a warrant before going there. Issue: A warrantless entry based on exigent circumstances is reasonable when the police did not create the exigency by engaging or threatening to engage in conduct violating the Fourth Amendment. Meaning in this case, if the police had not busted down the door there would have never been destruction of drugs and paraphernalia.
Kentucky Supreme Court actually asked whether officers deliberately created the exigent circumstances with the bad faith intent to avoid the warrant requirement. Obviously warrants require paperwork and time and many police officers feel that it is a hassle and takes too long; the exigent circumstance could have been purposely made so the police officers could avoid waiting or waisting time as some see it. Rule: Assuming that an exigency existed here, there is no evidence that the officers either violated the Fourth Amendment or threatened to do so prior to the point when they entered the apartment.
From what was brought to the Supreme Courts attention the police did everything properly, they knocked on the door loudly and told the tenants they were the police. If they do not do those two things the tenants may not hear them or they may not open the door because they do not know who it is. This is where the situation became exigent because then the tenants inside began running around and obviously destroying evidence. The police then shouted they were going to enter the apartment and busted the door down to get it.
The respondent pointed to no evidence supporting his argument that the officers made any sort of demand to enter the apartment, much less a demand that amounts to a threat to violate the Fourth Amendment. The record was made clear that the officers’ announcement that they were going to enter the apartment was made after the exigency arose, therefore everything that happened was just. Analysis: There was much controversy with this case because police officers did enter an apartment with no warrant.
Since there were no bystanders or other evidence except the police officers and the tenants involved it was very difficult to come out with a verdict. Of course the police officers stated that there were exigent circumstances occurring before they enter the apartment and the tenants states that there were no exigent circumstances until they entered the apartment. Unfortunately, both could have been true because both have occurred before. In this case, the police officers did everything correctly and were not trying to avoid getting a search warrants.
The knocked on the door because they smelled marajuana and after the tenants began destroying evidence the police entered due to the exigency of the situation. Conclusion: The tenants were going to try to do anything to get away with what they had been caught with. They felt like their privacy was violated because even though they were conducting illegal activities, they were doing so behind closed doors and in the privacy of their home.
What they failed to realize is that even if you are in your home with the door locked if you create a situation in which arises police officers attention then escalates to a level of exigency they can enter your home if you do not open the door. Their Fourth Amendment was not violated and the tenants were in the wrong. References: Kentucky v. King 302 S. W. 3d 649 (Supreme Court 2011) reversed and remanded, No. 09-1272 (2011)