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State v. Stanley

Court of Appeals of Oregon

August 23, 2017

STATE OF OREGON, Plaintiff-Respondent,
v.
SHAWN GALEN STANLEY, Defendant-Appellant.

         Clackamas County Circuit Court CR1412315 Kathie F. Steele, Judge.

          Argued and submitted December 21, 2016

          Emily P. Seltzer, Deputy Public Defender, argued the cause for appellant. With her on the brief was Ernest G. Lannet, Chief Defender, Offce of Public Defense Services.

          Lauren P. Robertson, Assistant Attorney General, argued the cause for respondent. With her on the brief were Ellen F. Rosenblum, Attorney General, and Benjamin Gutman, Solicitor General.

          Before DeVore, Presiding Judge, and Garrett, Judge, and James, Judge. [*]

         [287 Or. 400] Case Summary:

         Defendant appeals a judgment convicting him of harassment, ORS 166.065, and interference with making a report, ORS 165.572. He assigns error to the denial of his motion to suppress evidence obtained after police entered his home without a warrant. Defendant argues that the trial court erred when it concluded that the warrantless entry was justified by the emergency aid exception to the warrant requirement because officers lacked a subjective belief that the victim had suffered a "serious physical injury or harm" requiring immediate assistance. Defendant further argues that he did not consent to the warrantless entry because the officer's statement-"I'm going to go in and check on [the victim]"-was not a request for consent and did not give defendant an opportunity to deny officers entry into the home. Held: The trial court erred in denying defendant's motion to suppress. The emergency aid exception requires more than a speculative concern that someone may need assistance; rather, police must actually have a subjective belief that a person is seriously injured and in need of immediate assistance. The record reveals that neither officer testified to having an actual belief that the victim was seriously injured and in need of immediate assistance. The officers were, instead, acting out of a concern to find out whether the victim was injured, and a belief that they were required to do so in situations involving reported domestic violence. Furthermore, defendant did not consent to the warrantless entry because the officer's declaratory statement was not a request for consent to enter the house and invited no response other than acquiescence.

         Reversed and remanded.

         [287 Or. 401] GARRETT, J.

         Defendant was convicted after a bench trial of harassment, ORS 166.065, and interference with making a report, ORS 165.572. He appeals the denial of his motion to suppress evidence obtained after police entered his home without a warrant. We conclude that the warrantless entry into defendant's home was not justified by the emergency aid exception to the warrant requirement. We also reject the state's alternative argument that defendant consented to the entry. Accordingly, we conclude that the trial court erred in denying defendant's motion to suppress, and reverse and remand the judgment.

         In reviewing the denial of a motion to suppress evidence, we review the facts on which the denial was based for any evidence, and the trial court's ruling based on those facts for legal error. State v. Ehly, 317 Or. 66, 75, 854 P.2d 421 (1993); see also State v. Freunal, 102 Or.App. 647, 651, 796 P.2d 656 (1990) ("We are not bound by the trial court's conclusions, if the historical facts do not meet the constitutional standards for a valid consent to search."). Where findings of fact are not made on all issues and there is evidence from which such facts could be decided more than one way, we presume that the facts were decided in a manner consistent with the trial court's ultimate conclusion. Ehly, 317 Or at 75. We state the facts in accordance with that standard.

         The state's evidence at the hearing on the motion to suppress consisted of the testimony of Officers Burnum and Hill, who responded to a 9-1-1 call from the victim, defendant's then-girlfriend, reporting a domestic disturbance. The officers testified that they were informed by dispatch that the victim had been attacked by defendant; that at one point, defendant had taken her phone to prevent her from calling 9-1-1; that defendant had broken down the door to a bathroom to "get at her"; and that there was a gun in a safe somewhere inside the home. The officers were also told that the victim was upstairs and "felt safe" there, and that defendant was outside waiting for police to arrive.

         Burnum, Hill, and a third officer arrived and found defendant sitting on the front porch of the house. Both [287 Or. 402] Burnum and Hill testified that defendant was calm and compliant and that the encounter was "casual." The officers determined that the house belonged to defendant and that the victim was inside with her dog. Hill then told defendant, "I'm going to go in and check on [the victim]." Defendant said something like, "Go on ahead. She's inside." Neither officer recalled asking for defendant's consent to enter the house, but Hill believed that defendant had consented to the entry through his reply. When questioned at the suppression hearing regarding the basis for entering without a warrant, Burnum testified that the entry was necessary "to investigate if there was a crime, in fact, that happened, " to see "if anybody was injured inside, " and because, under the circumstances, there was "a person [who] was potentially injured." Additionally, Hill testified that it was her understanding that, pursuant to the community caretaker function, police are "mandated" to enter the home in domestic violence situations whenever "there may be somebody injured or hurt inside" to ensure the safety of the individual. Thus, according to Hill, a warrantless entry into defendant's home was necessary "to make sure that [the victim] was okay."

         Hill and the other officer entered the house to locate the victim, while Burnum continued interviewing defendant. The victim showed the officers the damaged door to the upstairs bathroom. She was upset and her right ear and side of her face were red. While inside, the officers also took photos of the bathroom door and of the victim's injuries, which were later admitted into evidence at trial. ...


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