People v. Johnson, 2021-21353

CourtNew York County Court
Writing for the CourtCraig Stephen Brown, J.
Docket Number2021-21353,Index 2021-314
PartiesThe People of the State of New York, v. Jamel Johnson, Defendant.
Decision Date17 December 2021

The People of the State of New York,

Jamel Johnson, Defendant.

No. 2021-21353

Index No. 2021-314

County Court, Orange County

December 17, 2021


Attorney for Defendant


Attorney for the People

Craig Stephen Brown, J.

The defendant, Jamel Johnson, is charged with one count of each of the following crimes: Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Second Degree [PL 265.03-3], Criminal Possession of a Firearm [PL 265.01-b(1)], Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance in the Third Degree [PL 220.16-1], and Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance in the Seventh Degree [PL 220.03]. By Decision and Order dated November 30, 2021, the defendant was granted a hearing to determine the admissibility of physical evidence seized by the police and statements allegedly made by the defendant. A hearing was held on December 7, 2021. Appearing for the People was Assistant District Attorney Michael Purcell, Esq. Appearing for the defendant was Joseph Gulino, Jr., Esq. The People called four witnesses: Stephanie Guzman, Police Officer Terrance Peterson, Detective Roman Scuadroni, and Police Officer Nicholas Guccione. The defendant did not call any witnesses. The following items were received into evidence: a Miranda form (People No.1), a compact disc (People #2), a vehicle tow report (People #3), and a City of Newburgh Police Department General Order No. O-022 (People #4).


On August 24, 2021, the police were notified that there was an unconscious person, a possible overdose, in a motor vehicle at 51 Henry Avenue in the City of Newburgh, NY Police Officer Terrance Peterson ("Peterson") arrived at the location and observed a male standing outside a white van in the middle of the roadway. The van was blocking the free flow of traffic, but it was partially in/near a parking spot. There was no other occupant of the van and the keys were in the ignition. The male was standing at the front of the vehicle with the driver's side door open, and he appeared to be in distress. When Peterson approached the man, Peterson recognized him as Jamel Johnson ("Johnson"). Peterson and Johnson are cousins. While Peterson was speaking to Johnson, Johnson was looking right through him, as if Peterson was not there. Johnson could not stand or walk properly, and he was non-responsive to Peterson's questions. Based upon Peterson's training and experience in identifying persons under the influence of drugs, he determined that Johnson was under the influence of narcotics. Out of concern for the safety and well-being of his cousin, Peterson confirmed the call for an ambulance.

Stephanie Guzman ("Guzman"), who was working for Mobile Life, received a call that a person had a drug overdose and needed assistance. When she arrived at Henry Avenue, there were multiple police on scene, and there was a male sitting on the curb. Upon speaking to the man, Guzman ascertained that he was unable to answer questions, was following instructions sluggishly, and was incoherent. He could not even identify the day of the week. Guzman determined that the male needed to be placed on a stretcher and transported by ambulance to the hospital for treatment and for his own safety. Johnson did not have the capacity to refuse medical attention. When she advised the police that Johnson was going to be transported by ambulance to the hospital, Peterson conducted a safety search of the male. While Guzman did not feel threatened and did not specifically request that a safety search be performed, she testified it is customary for one to be done under these circumstances. Guzman observed Peterson recover a gun from Johnson's waistband during the safety check.

When Peterson was advised by Guzman that Johnson was being transported to the hospital by ambulance, Peterson performed a "pat down" on Johnson. He limited his pat down to "high risk areas", which included Johnson's waist and side. During the pat down, Peterson felt a bulge near Johnson's hip. Peterson asked Johnson multiple times what the bulge was with no response from Johnson. It is a general policy of the City of Newburgh Police Department to conduct a safety search on anyone entering an ambulance to be transported to the hospital because the person is being "detained" under those circumstances. Neither Peterson nor Guzman indicated that they feared Johnson prior to the pat down, and Peterson did not request Johnson's consent for him to perform the pat down. Peterson also confirmed that Johnson was not being arrested for driving under the influence of drugs or for any other crime...

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