State v. McClean

Decision Date15 November 2019
Docket NumberN23NCR170176771
PartiesSTATE of Connecticut v. Wendell MCCLEAN
CourtConnecticut Superior Court



Elpedio N. Vitale, Judge

The defendant, Wendell McClean, stands charged in an information with Weapons in a Motor Vehicle, in violation of Connecticut General Statutes § 29-38, Carrying a Pistol without a Permit in violation of Connecticut General Statutes § 29-35(a) Criminal Possession of a Firearm, in violation of Connecticut General Statutes § 53a-217, Failure to Display Plate, in violation of Connecticut General Statutes § 14-18(a), and Illegal operation of a Motor Vehicle without Tint Inspection in violation of Connecticut General Statutes § 14-99g(g).

The charges arise out of events that are alleged to have occurred on June 12, 2017, in New Haven near the area of College Street near Chapel Street, during a motor vehicle stop effectuated by members of the New Haven Police Department. On April 3, 2019, the defendant filed a document captioned "Motion to Suppress Evidence," wherein the defendant seeks to "suppress from evidence the fruits of searches and/or seizures of the defendant’s person, house, papers, and effects"[1] pursuant to "Connecticut Practice Book Section 41-12 et seq., the Fourth, Sixth, and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution, and Article One, Sections 7 and 8 of the Connecticut Constitution." The defendant’s written motion posits several grounds he suggests warrant the suppression of "any physical evidence" seized. Only one such ground, however, that "property was illegally seized without a warrant under circumstances requiring a warrant," appears arguably relevant after a hearing on the motion.

An evidentiary hearing on the motion was conducted on divers dates in April, May and June 2019. Following the hearing, the court afforded counsel for the defendant and the state the opportunity to submit briefs in support of their respective claims. The defendant’s brief was originally due to be submitted July 11th, 2019. The defendant sought, and was granted, two continuances past the original July 11, 2019 due date to file his brief. Ultimately, defendant’s brief was scheduled to be filed by September 5, 2019. Nevertheless, the defendant’s brief was filed eleven days late, on September 16, 2019. The state’s response was timely filed on October 4, 2019. The court heard oral argument on the motion on October 15, 2019.

In reaching its conclusions, the court has fairly and impartially considered all of the evidence received at trial; evaluated the credibility of the witnesses; assessed the weight, if any, to be given specific evidence and measured the probative force of conflicting evidence; reviewed all exhibits, relevant statutes, and case law; and has drawn such inferences from the evidence, or facts established by the evidence, that it deems reasonable and logical. To the extent it is necessary to further amplify, the court’s credibility determinations for each witness were made, inter alia, on the basis of the conduct, demeanor, and attitude of the witnesses as well as all the other factors relevant for each witness with respect to the credibility evaluation. See Lapointe v. Commissioner of Corrections, 316 Conn. 225, 268-71, (2015). Additionally, any other evidence on the record not specifically mentioned in this decision that would support a contrary conclusion, whether said evidence was contested or uncontested by the parties, was considered and rejected by the court. See State v. Edmonds, 323 Conn. 34 (2016).

For the reasons set forth below the motion is hereby denied.[2]

I. Findings of Fact

Based on the evidence and the reasonable and logical inferences therefrom, the court finds the following facts.

Detective Ryan Macuirzynski at the New Haven Police Department was assigned to the Shooting Task Force ("task force") on June 12, 2017 and was partnered with fellow task force officer Eric Bailey of the Yale Police Department. At approximately 6:30 p.m. on that date, while on patrol and positioned in an unmarked police vehicle, Macuirzynski and Bailey observed a white Nissan Maxima parked on Adam Clayton Powell Place. The vehicle was registered to the defendant Wendell McClean. The task force had previously received information from confidential informants and sources that the defendant was armed with a firearm, and had been robbing "drug dealers" while utilizing a firearm. Macuirzynski and Bailey were aware that the defendant was a convicted felon and was therefore not permitted to be in possession of a firearm. Specifically, they were aware that the defendant’s prior criminal history included "gun charges, weapons charges, [and] narcotics charges." Additionally, they were further aware based on an ongoing New Haven Police Department homicide investigation, that the defendant was an associate of the homicide victim. The homicide had occurred approximately two weeks prior to the events of June 12, 2017. The homicide had occurred on Dickerman Street in New Haven. In connection with the defendant’s association with the homicide victim, police additionally had received information that the defendant was armed to "protect himself from retaliation," as the defendant "had a lot of associations with the people that were involved with [the homicide]." As a result of the foregoing information, Macuirzynski believed that the defendant was "armed at all times." Bailey and Macuirzynski then drove past the white Nissan to determine if it was occupied. The vehicle was unoccupied at that time. Bailey and Macuirzynski were interested in interviewing the defendant about the homicide. The Nissan was observed to be heavily tinted and failed to display a "tint sticker" in compliance with Connecticut General Statutes § 14-99g(g). Additionally, the Nissan did not have a license plate affixed to the front bumper as required by Connecticut General Statutes § 14-18(a). Bailey and Macuinzynski remained in their vehicle and in close proximity to the Nissan. After "a little while," the defendant was observed by Bailey and Macuirzynski to exit a building quickly and then enter the driver’s side of the Nissan. The defendant then drove the Nissan away. There was no evidence of anything in the defendant’s hands as he walked toward the Nissan. The defendant was wearing a white "T-shirt" and blue jeans. There was no further evidence describing the defendant’s overall conduct or appearance as he walked to the Nissan from "the building." Once the defendant began to operate the Nissan, Bailey radioed New Haven Police Department communications and advised communications that they were going to follow his vehicle, and requested a marked police unit stop the Nissan for the motor vehicle violations. Macuirzynski requested a marked police cruiser conduct the stop, due to his belief that the defendant may be armed and "having a marked police cruiser pull him over would be safer." They followed the defendant’s vehicle for "several minutes" until a motor vehicle stop was made on College Street between Elm and Chapel Streets. The time of the stop was approximately 7:00 p.m. Officer John Moore of the patrol division actually conducted the motor vehicle stop. Moore was operating a marked police vehicle and had received a dispatch via police radio that an "I-Unit" had been following a vehicle. Moore was informed by dispatch that the "I-Unit" was looking for a marked patrol vehicle to initiate a stop on the vehicle they were following. Officer Moore was told to use caution when effectuating the stop as "the driver of the vehicle was known to carry a firearm." Moore first observed the vehicle in the area of College Street just before Elm Street while he was traveling northbound on College Street and the subject vehicle was traveling south bound. Moore noted that the Nissan lacked a front license plate. Moore then made a "U-turn" in order to travel behind the Nissan, and as he closed behind it, activated his overhead lights. Moore initiated the stop on the vehicle based on his observation that the vehicle lacked a front license plate. The lack of a front license plate constituted a motor vehicle violation enabling Moore to initiate a motor vehicle stop. But for his observation at the motor vehicle infraction, Moore would not have initiated the stop.

Bailey and Macuirzynski thereupon pulled in front of the defendant’s Nissan and parked their unmarked vehicle at an angle. Macuirzynski exited his vehicle from the passenger side, and approached the defendant’s vehicle. He "yelled" at the defendant, identifying himself as a police officer. As he approached the defendant’s vehicle, and from a distance of approximately ten to fifteen feet, Macuirzynski was able to observe the defendant through the front windshield of the Nissan. Although the Nissan had a "small tint up top," the entire windshield was not tinted. He was able to see directly into the driver’s side of the vehicle. At that point, Macuirzynski observed the defendant’s body "toward the right side of the vehicle, the passenger side." Macuirzynski could not ascertain exactly what the defendant was doing, but clearly saw the defendant "leaned over to the right." He could not see the defendant’s hands.

Macuirzynski then began yelling to the defendant to "show me your hands." Given the information Macuirzynski possessed regarding the defendant’s potential to be armed with a firearm, Macuirzynski "wanted to see his hands." The defendant complied with Macuirzynski’s request.

Bailey and Moore proceeded to the driver’s side of the Nissan and Macuirzynski went to the passenger side. There was no evidence the glove box was open, at that time, or that police, when approaching, had asked the defendant for...

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT