IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF DELAWARE
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
TYRONE K. DAVIS,
Criminal Action No. 12-cr-70 (GMS)
On September 23, 2012, the Grand Jury for the District of Delaware returned a one-count
Indictment charging the defendant, Tyrone K. Davis ("Davis"), with possession and transportation
of a firearm by a prohibited person in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 992(g)(1)
and 924(a)(2). Presently before the court is Davis' Motion to Suppress Evidence. (D.I. 14.) The
court held an evidentiary hearing in connection with this Motion (D.I. 16) and subsequently
directed the parties to file proposed Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law. After having
considered the testimony elicited during the hearing and the arguments presented in the parties'
submissions on the issues, the court will deny Davis' motion.
FINDINGS OF FACT
At the evidentiary hearing, the United States called two witnesses: William Browne
("Captain Browne"), Captain of Detectives for the Wilmington Police Department ("WPD") and
leader ofthe WPD's Crisis Management and Tactical Team ("SWAT Team"); and Kimberly Pfaff
("Detective Pfaff'), a criminal investigator for the WPD. See Transcript of Evidentiary Hearing
("Tr.") (D.I. 16) at 5:4-15; id. at 31:3-13. After listening to the testimony of the witnesses, the
court concludes that Capital Browne and Detective Pfaffs account of the facts is credible. The
following represents the court's essential findings of fact as required by Rule 12(d) ofthe Federal
Rules of Criminal Procedure.
On August 16, 2012, Detective Pfaff applied for and obtained a warrant for the body of
Davis ("arrest warrant") at 512 N. Monroe Street, Wilmington, Delaware, based upon a reasonable
belief that Davis would be located therein. 1 (D.L 21 at 2 (citing Tr. at 32:3-7).) Detective Pfaff
applied for the arrest warrant after receiving a call regarding a domestic violence complaint from
Davis' ex-girlfriend. (Id. (citing Tr. at 32:3-7).) On August 15,2012, Davis' ex-girlfriend, referred
to throughout the briefing as "LB.", called 911 after a physical altercation took place between her
and Davis on the 500 block of Monroe Street and reported the incidents to the WPD. (Id. at 3
(citing Tr. at 32:10-18).) Specifically, on that date, pursuant to the affidavit ofprobable cause in
support of the arrest warrant, Wilmington police officers responded to the area of West Ninth and
Monroe Streets in reference to the assault and, upon arrival, made contact with LB., who told the
officers that Davis ran up to her at a location on the 500 block of North Monroe Street, followed
her inside the residence, pulled her hair, punched her in the face with a closed fist and, ultimately,
pulled her out of the residence, causing her to stumble down the front steps. (Id. (citing Gov't Ex.
2; Tr. at 32:12-14).) LB. also informed the officers that, on August 13 and August 14,2012, Davis
attacked her by slapping her, pulling her hair, and threatening her. (Id. (citing Tr. at 32:14-18).)
On this information, Detective Pfaff applied for the arrest warrant in connection with
Davis' alleged violation ofDelaware Criminal Code, Title 11, Section 611, Assault Third Degree.
(D.I. 20 at 2.) Although the WPD considered Davis a person of interest in an ongoing homicide
investigation at the time Detective Pfaff sought the arrest warrant, the application did not include
1 Davis appeared in court for a capeas proceeding on August 16, 2012 and advised the court at that time that
his home address was 512 Monroe Street, Wilmington, Delaware.
any information to this affect. (!d.) The arrest warrant application did not specify whether officers
anticipated that Davis would be armed or if he possessed a firearm during the alleged assaults.
Detective Pfaff testified that, as part of their preparation to execute the arrest warrant, the
WPD officers made the determination that they would use the assistance of the WPD SWAT Team.
(D.I. 21 at 3 (citing Tr. at 34:15-21).) The WPD's SWAT Team is often utilized in executing
"high risk warrants"-specifically, warrants where the subject has a violent criminal history and/or
a history of utilizing weapons. (!d. at 3-4 (citing Tr. at 34:15-21; id. at 6:2-8).) Detective Pfaff
testified that she communicated her findings regarding Davis' history of violence to her supervisor,
who then, in turn, communicated those findings to Captain Browne, the officer in charge of the
SWAT Team at the time of Davis' arrest. (!d. at 4 (citing Tr. at 36:8-16).)
Shortly thereafter, Detective Pfaff contacted Captain Browne and discussed apprehension
of Davis. (ld. (citing Tr. at 7:4-13).) Detective Pfaff gave Captain Browne the location of the
arrest warrant, 512 North Monroe Street, and, noted that, in addition to being wanted for domestic
assault, Davis was a person of interest in a homicide investigation. (!d. (citing Tr. at 7:10-12).)
Detective Pfaff further informed Captain Browne that the weapon used in the homicide had not
been recovered. (ld. (citing Tr. at 7:15-16).) Captain Browne reviewed Davis' criminal history in
the days leading to the execution of the arrest warrant and determined, along with the SWAT
Team, that the warrant would be classified as "high-risk." (!d. (citing Tr. at 10:21-24).) Captain
Browne testified that this determination was informed by certain aspects of Davis' criminal
history-specifically, that Davis was a convicted felon with a history of resisting arrest and
assaults on police officers. (!d. (citing Tr. at 12:21-25).) Captain Browne testified that Davis'
convictions were of the type that would cause concern for both himself and members of the SWAT
Team executing a warrant. (!d. (citing Tr. at 13:2-7).)
Specifically, the following criminal history items were relevant in this determination: (1)
on August 1, 2003, Davis was arrested for resisting arrest and criminal trespassing; (2) on August
6, 2003, Davis was arrested for carrying a concealed and deadly weapon and possession of a deadly
weapon by a prohibited person; (3) on June 6, 2004, Davis was arrested for aggravated menacing,
menacing, and resisting arrest; (4) on November 19,2004, Davis pled guilty to first degree assault,
second degree assault, and possession of a weapon by a prohibited person, after which he was
sentenced to a five year term of incarceration; (5) Davis' conviction for carrying a concealed and
dangerous instrument on December 19, 2005; ( 6) on March 31, 2010, Davis was arrested for
resisting arrest; (7) on October 10, 2011, Davis was arrested for possession of a firearm by a
prohibited person, possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony, reckless
endangering, and attempted assault; and (8) on February 23,2012, Davis was arrested for resisting
and hindering a police officer and this charge remained pending at the time the arrest warrant was
executed.2 (!d. at 4-5 (citation omitted).)
Having characterized the Davis arrest warrant as "high-risk," the SWAT Team devised an
entry plan for its execution and determined that they would establish a containment perimeter with
nearby police units. (!d. at 5 (citing Tr. at 13:23-25).) At approximately 6:00a.m., the SWAT
Team, upon exiting their vehicles and approaching house, first checked to see if the front door was
unlocked. (!d. (citing Tr. at 14:7-8).) The SWAT Team found the door unlocked, entered the
2 Davis lists his criminal history record as including the following: (1) misdemeanors-carrying a concealed
weapon (2004 ), loitering (2004 ), criminal trespass (2004 ), criminal impersonation (20 11 ), and resisting arrest (20 11 );
and (2) felonies-assault first, assault second, and possession of a weapon by a prohibited person (same incident,
2004), and possession with the intent to deliver marijuana (20 1 0). (D.I. 20 at 2.) Davis' Opening Brief also notes that
he was charged with a shooting incident in 2011, but that that charged was dismissed. (!d.)
residence, and, as soon as they crossed the front door threshold, announced their presence, yelling
"Police! We have a search warrant!" (!d. (citing Tr. at 15:1-4, 7-15).) Captain Browne testified
that it is the SWAT Team's practice to have multiple members make continuous announcements
as they move throughout the residence so that the occupants know who they are and why they are
there. (!d. (citing Tr. at 15:4-6).)
As Captain Browne entered the living room of the residence, he noticed a subject, later
identified as Davis, laying on the floor apparently sleeping. (!d. at 6 (citing Tr. at 16:5-7).) Captain
Browne commanded Davis to put his hands behind his back so that he could secure him, and placed
Davis in handcuffs. (!d. (citing Tr. at 16:7-9).) Despite being cuffed, Davis did not remain still
and began to roll over to his left in such a way that Captain Browne began to lose sight of his
hands. (!d. (citing Tr. at 16: 13-15).) Captain Browne ordered Davis not to move and leaned down
to secure him, placing Davis face-down so that he could "maintain control of him for officer safety
reasons." (!d. at (citing Tr. at 16:11-17).) As Captain Browne leaned down to secure Davis, he
noticed a .38-caliber revolver underneath the coffee table, approximately twelve inches from
Davis. (!d. (citing Tr. at 16:18-24).) Captain Browne announced that there was a weapon in the
room and reestablished control of Davis, moving him away from the firearm. (!d. (citing Tr. at
Detective Pfaff and the WPD Criminal Investigation Team entered the residence upon
being advised by the SWAT Team that it was safe to do so and Captain Browne informed Detective
Pfaffthat the SWAT Team had located the firearm next to Davis. (!d. (citing Tr. at 37:5-9, 14-
16).) The WPD investigators performed a protective sweep of the residence. (!d. (citing Tr. at
18: 19-9-19:6).) Detective Pfaff observed the firearm and then left to obtain a search warrant for
the residence. (!d. at 7 (citing Tr. at 37:15-16, 38:3-9).) Detective Pfafftestified that she believed
she needed to obtain a search warrant because the original warrant was limited to a search for
Davis' body and, therefore, the WPD would need a new warrant to search the house. (!d. (citing
Tr. at 3 8: 13-17).) Officers conducted a search of the residence when Detective Pfaff returned with
the warrant, but did not uncover any additional weapons or ammunition. (!d. (citing Tr. at 38:23-
24).) The only other item seized as a result of the search warrant was Davis' cell phone. (D.I. 20
at 3.) Davis was then taken back to the WPD headquarters, where he gave a post-Miranda
statement admitting to possession of the firearm and noted that he purchased it for $150 from an
unidentified male in Philadelphia because he believed his life was in danger. (D.I. 21 at 6 (citing
D.l. 2 at~ 8).)
III. CONCLUSIONS OF LAW
Davis asserts that the evidence obtained as a result of the above-described arrest must be
suppressed as the product of an unreasonable search and seizure in violation of the Fourth
Amendment. (D.I. 14; D.l. 15; D.l. 23.) Specifically, Davis contends that: (1) his prior "criminal
history, by itself, did not create a sufficient threat for police to disregard the constitutionally
imposed requirement to knock and announce their presence before entering a home on an arrest
warrant" (D.I. 20 at 3); (2) "the circumstances of the case" did not "justify the police's failure to
knock and announce" (id.); and (3) the exclusionary rule should apply in this case because the
police entered the home unlawfully and the evidence seized would not have been found "but for"
the unlawful entry (id. ). In support of his position, Davis notes that Detective Pfaff admitted in
her testimony that she obtained the warrant for his body hoping that the WPD would find the
handgun used in the unsolved homicide while officers were inside the residence. 3 (!d. at 11-12.)
3 Specifically, Detective Pfaff testified:
Q: Yes. Is the fact that you really didn't have anything on Mr. Davis the reason why you didn't
apply for a search warrant of the residence at 512 Monroe Street to look for the gun [allegedly used
in the homicide] after you knew that he was residing there on August the 13 1h?
Conversely, the government argues that the firearm should be admitted because: (1) per
Michigan v. Hudson, suppression is not a remedy available to Davis for an alleged violation of the
knock and announce rule (D.I. 21 at 7 (citing 547 U.S. 586 (2006))); (2) even if Davis were entitled
to suppression, which he is not, his claim would still fail because the WPD's decision to forego
compliance with the knock and announce rule was reasonable due to the known and articulable
danger that he posed to law enforcement (id at 10-13); and (3) the law enforcement officers here
executed the search in good faith reliance on the search warrant's authority and on the state of the
law in Delaware, rendering the exclusionary rule inapplicable (id at 13-14).
A. Whether Suppression is an Available Remedy to a Knock and Announce Rule
The Fourth Amendment protects the rights of individuals to be "secure in their persons,
houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures." U.S. Const. amend. IV.
To this end, it is well established that law enforcement officers must possess a warrant before
conducting a search and/or seizure, unless the warrantless search falls within one of the "few ...
and carefully delineated" exceptions to the warrant requirement. United States v. Coles, 437 F.3d
361, 365 (3d Cir. 2006) (quoting Welsh v. Wisconsin, 466 U.S. 740, 749-50 (1984)). Here, the
parties do not dispute that the WPD possessed a warrant for the body of Davis.
A: Correct. I had no probable cause.
Q: But you did, subsequent to talking to the victim, the alleged victim, on the 151h of August, have
probable cause to get him arrested for the assault. Right?
A: That's correct.
Q: Were you hopeful that in arresting Mr. Davis for the assault that you would find something
related to this homicide investigation?
A: I guess there is always a chance of hope. But my primary investigation at that time was for the
Q: Let me ask it another way. Was this a strategy that you employed essentially to get inside the
home of Mr. Davis to-where you knew you weren't going to get a search warrant because you
didn't have probable cause to search the home, was this a strategy that you used to get a warrant for
the body, to get into the home?
A: Yes, it was an investigative tool I used.
Tr. at 40:22-41:23.
The Supreme Court has also afforded Fourth Amendment protection to knock and
announce entries. See Wilson v. Arkansas, 514 U.S. 927, 931 (1995). Specifically, the Court has
noted that there is "no doubt that the reasonableness of a search of a dwelling may depend in part
on whether the law enforcement officers announce their presence and authority prior to entering."
!d. In Wilson v. Arkansas, the Court explained that this common law principle of announcing an
officer's presence is "embedded in Anglo-American law" and, further, that adherence to this
principle is an element of the reasonableness required under a Fourth Amendment analysis. See
id. at 933-34.
Importantly, however, the knock and announce rule is not absolute. Indeed, in Wilson, the
Court recognized that police officers may have "reasonably believed that a prior announcement
would have placed them in peril, given their knowledge" of the petitioner's criminal history, which
included threatening a government informant with a semi-automatic weapon and convictions for
arson and fire-bombing. See id. at 936. The Court has also identified additional exceptions to the
knock and announce rule, including situations in which: (1) the individual inside was aware of the
officers' identify and, therefore, the announcement would have been a useless gesture; (2) the
announcement might lead to the sought individual's escape; (3) the announcement might place the
officers in physical peril; and ( 4) adherence to the rule might lead to the destruction of evidence.
See Richards v. Wisconsin, 520 U.S. 385, 394 (1997). In so holding, the Court recognized that
"the Fourth Amendment's flexible requirement of reasonableness should not be read to mandate a
rigid rule of announcement that ignores countervailing law enforcement interests." See id.
The Court later extended this rationale in Michigan v. Hudson, where it held that the
exclusionary rule did not apply to the facts presented and suppression was not an available remedy
for a knock and announce rule violation. Specifically, the Court in Hudson concluded that the
exclusionary rule was not available because: (1) the knock and announce rule violation did not
require suppression of all evidence found in the search; (2) the illegal manner of entry was not the
but for cause of obtaining the evidence4; (3) the interests that were violated, "preventing the
government from seeing or taking evidence described in the warrant," had "nothing to do with the
seizure of evidence"5; and (4) "the social costs of applying the exclusionary rule" to knock and
announce violations are "considerable[,] the incentive to such violations were minimal to begin
with[,] and the extant deterrences against them are substantial."6
In light of this stated rationale, Davis argues that the exclusionary rule should apply in this
case because the WPD's failure to adhere to the knock and announce rule was, in fact, the "but
for" cause of Captain Browne finding the firearm at issue. Specifically, Davis asserts that, had the
WPD SWAT Team knocked and announced its presence as constitutionally required, he would
have answered and been arrested at the front door and, therefore, Captain Browne would not have
entered the premises and observed the firearm under the table. (D.I. 20 at 12.) Davis further adds
that, because he would have answered the front door, the gun would not have been in plain view
and the WPD officers "would not have gained any additional information to support a search
warrant on the premises," confirming that the firearm would not have been found. (Id)
Davis asserts that the evidence at issue should be excluded because the Hudson Court, in
arriving at its decision, considered whether the violation was the "but for" cause of the officers
finding the evidence in that case. Thus, Davis maintains that, "unlike the defendant in Hudson,
[he] can claim that 'but-for' the police's failure to knock and announce, the police would not have
found or seized the firearm evidence," necessitating suppression here. (Id at 14.) As additional
4 Hudson, 547 U.S. at 591.
5 Id at 594.
6 Id at 599.
support for this argument, Davis notes that the Court's decision in Wong Sun v. United States
positioned the but for test as a key consideration in assessing whether suppression is warranted.
(ld (citing Wong Sun v. United States, 371 U.S. 471, 487-88 (1963)).) Applying this test to the
instant matter, Davis argues that "the evidence was gathered solely through the exploitation of the
failure to knock and announce and there is no other basis for the retrieval of the evidence that
distinguishes it from the 'primary taint."' (ld)
The court disagrees with Davis' characterization of the Hudson holding as well as with his
conclusion that Fourth Amendment jurisprudence dictates suppression. Specifically, it appears
clear to the court that Hudson's holding is not limited to circumstances where the discovery of
evidence was not the but for result of the knock and announce rule violation. Indeed, the language
in Hudson makes this point clear:
[E]xclusion may not be premised on the mere fact that a constitutional violation
was a "but-for" cause of obtaining evidence. Our cases show that but-for causality
is only a necessary, not sufficient, condition for suppression. . . . But even if the
illegal entry here could be characterized as a but-for cause of discovering what was
inside, we have "never held that evidence is 'fruit of the poisonous tree' simply
because 'it would not have come to light but for the illegal actions of the police"'.
. . . Even in the early days of the exclusionary rule, we declined to hold that all
evidence is "fruit of the poisonous tree" simply because it would not have come to
light but for the illegal actions of the police.
Hudson, 547 U.S. at 592 (citations omitted) (emphasis in original). The Hudson Court further
explained that the exclusionary rule does not apply where "the link between the illegality and th[ e]
evidence [i]s sufficiently attenuated to dissipate the taint, including when the casual connection is
too remote" or when the "interest protected by the constitutional guarantee that has been violated
would not be served by suppression of the evidence obtained." Hudson, 547 at 592-93 (citing
Segura v. United States, 468 U.S. 796, 815 (1984)).
Clarifying the "interest protected" by the knock and announce rule, the Court noted that
such interests include "protection of human life and limb, because an unannounced entry may
provoke violence in supposed self-defense by the surprised resident," "protection of property,"
and, generally, "elements of privacy and dignity that can be destroyed by a sudden entrance." See
id. at 592. With regard to the last interest, the knock and announce rule "gives residents the
'opportunity to prepare themselves for' the entry of the police"' and provides a "brief interlude
between announcement and entry with a warrant" so that "an individual [can] pull on clothes and
get out of bed." See id. (citation omitted). Importantly, however, the interests protected by this
rule "do not include the shielding of potential evidence from the government's eyes." !d. at 593.
Thus, and as the Court distinguished in Hudson, where "the interests that were violated ... have
nothing to do with the seizure of evidence, the exclusionary rule is inapplicable." !d. at 594.
In light of this rationale, the court is unpersuaded by Davis' argument that the Hudson
Court based its decision on a but for analysis. In fact, Davis does not cite to any support, aside
from providing an interpretation of Hudson, directly supporting his position that the evidence
should be excluded as fruit of the poisonous tree, despite the absence of a suppression-triggering
rule violation. Moreover, the Third Circuit has likewise rejected Davis' reading of Hudson. See
United States v. Briggs, 347 Fed. Appx. 750, 753 (3d Cir. Oct. 1, 2009) (non-precedential) (citing
Hudson in stating that suppression would not be appropriate even if law enforcement had violated
the knock and announce rule when executing a search warrant); United States v. Stalling, 275 Fed.
Appx. 147, 149 (3d Cir. Apr. 23, 2008) (non-precedential) (finding that the Hudson decision
renders the argument that a defendant is entitled to suppression for a violation of the knock and
announce rule to be meritless); see also United States v. Mosely, 454 F.3d 249,259 n.l5 (3d Cir.
2006) (observing that when the "illegality is restricted to a violation of the knock and announce
rule ... no one, not even the owner, can suppress"); United States v. Jones, 523 F.3d 31, 36 (1st
Cir. 2008) (applying Hudson to no-knock executions of arrest warrants).
In consideration of the foregoing, the court concludes that the knock and announce rule
violation in this case does not warrant application of the exclusionary rule because, as the Hudson
Court detailed, the violation here "ha[s] nothing to do with the seizure of evidence," suppression
would not further the interests protected by the knock and announce rule, and the Hudson decision
did not tum on the but for analysis Davis advances. See generally Hudson, 547 U.S. at 592-94.
B. Validity ofthe WPD's Decision to Forego Adherence to the Knock and Announce
Rule Based on Davis' Criminal History
Davis also contends that, if he is entitled to suppression for violation of the knock and
announce rule, the evidence in question should be suppressed because: his criminal history, by
itself, did not create a sufficient threat for police to disregard the knock and announce rule and/or
characterize the execution of his arrest warrant as "high risk"; and the circumstances in this case,
aside from his criminal record, did not independently justify a no-knock entry. (D.I. 20 at 3, 10.)
Assuming that the exclusionary rule could apply to a no-knock search to suppress evidence
obtained, the court disagrees with both of Davis' assertions.
First, it is well established that the Fourth Amendment does not impose a specific rule
governing no-knock entries, but, instead, imposes a general requirement of "reasonableness,"
which is "informed by the goals of preventing undue invasion of privacy and destruction of private
property." See United States v. Stiver, 9 F.3d 298, 302 (3d Cir. 1993). To this end, the Fourth
Amendment contains a flexible requirement that all searches and seizures be "reasonable" and
regards an officer's failure to announce his or her presence before entering a residence to carry out
an otherwise lawful search or seizure as a factor in assessing whether that reasonableness
requirement is met in a given scenario. See Bodine v. Warwick, 72 F.3d 393, 398 (3d Cir. 1995).
As the Supreme Court explained in Richards v. Wisconsin, to "justify a 'no-knock' entry, the police
must have a reasonable suspicion that knocking and announcing their presence under the particular
circumstances would be dangerous or futile." Richards, 520 U.S. at 394. Thus, circumstances
supporting reasonable grounds for an officer to expect futility or exigency upon knocking, is
deemed a constitutionally permissible entry, despite lack of adherence to the rule. See United
States v. Banks, 540 U.S. 31, 36-37 (2003).
In assessing reasonableness, a court IS tasked with assessing the totality of the
circumstances surrounding the execution of the arrest warrant. Here, the court concludes that the
officers' decision to execute the warrant without adhering to the knock and announce rule and their
conduct during the execution of the warrant were both reasonable. As detailed in the Findings of
Fact section above, Captain Browne and the SWAT Team engaged in a risk assessment of Davis
before determining whether to execute the warrant without knocking and announcing their
presence. In this assessment, the officers reviewed Davis' criminal history, which detailed that he
is a convicted violent felon with a history of assaults, resisting arrest, assaults on police officers,
and possession of a deadly weapon by a person prohibited.
In addition to reviewing this
information, the officers also took into account, based on information provided by Detective Pfaff,
that Davis had allegedly assaulted LB., which provided grounds to believe that Davis was prone
to violence or, at very least, easily provoked. Further, Davis was a suspect in an ongoing homicide
investigation and the firearm used in that homicide had not yet been recovered. The court finds
that the officers, considering these items in combination, could reasonably believe that Davis
would be aggressive toward the officers, violent, or armed, making the execution of the arrest
warrant potentially dangerous. 7 Therefore, the court finds the officers' determination to execute
7 The court rejects Davis' assertion that the officers' safety concerns were "premised mainly," if not entirely,
on his criminal history or that evaluation of his criminal history in assessing whether a warrant was high-risk would
the search warrant without knocking and announcing their presence prior to entering was likewise
reasonable and justified based on the totality of the circumstances presented here.
Second, the court finds that, contrary to Davis' assertion, the SWAT Team members who
entered the house during execution ofthe warrant acted reasonably. Specifically, before entering
the residence, the officers checked the door to see if it was unlocked and found that it was. Next,
when they entered the residence, multiple Team members announced their presence by yelling
"Police! We have a search warrant!" while moving through the home, which mitigated the
intrusiveness of the knock and announce violation. Finally, once Davis was secured and the
firearm was observed, the SWAT Team waited to obtain a search warrant before searching the
The court notes that, in reaching its conclusion that the SWAT Team acted reasonably, it
rejects Davis' assertion that the "subjective intent" of the officers involved necessitates
suppression. Davis argues that the WPD "circumvented the search warrant process by getting an
arrest warrant on a minor case" and "using his prior arrest record as a basis to enter his home with
[sic] knocking." (D.I. 20 at 15.) In support, Davis references Detective Pfaffs acknowledgement
during the evidentiary hearing that she "hope[ d]" to find the firearm from the unsolved homicide
upon entering the residence and that the arrest warrant could be used as an "investigative tool."
(!d) Importantly, however, Davis' argument is undermined by the fact that the arrest warrant was
lawfully obtained. Indeed, Davis cites to no case law indicating that an officer being hopeful of
finding evidence of criminal activity when that officer has a lawful right to enter a residence
pursuant to a valid warrant, would render that warrant or the entrance illegal.
be unreasonable or inappropriate. Therefore, the court does not need to reach and does not assess Davis' contention
that reliance on criminal history alone in determining a no-knock warrant execution would, contrary to the Supreme
Court's guidance in Richards v. Wisconsin, inappropriately create a "blanket exception" that would render the rule
meaningless. (D.I. 20 at 5-6.)
Rather, it is clear that, when assessing the particular circumstances of a case, courts are
tasked with applying an objective standard of reasonableness. See Whren v. United States, 517
U.S. 806, 813 (1996). Thus, the subjective intentions or motivations of Detective Pfaff are
/d. (noting that the Court has consistently held that an officer's motives will not
invalidate objectively justifiable behavior under the Fourth Amendment). Thus, because the
officers had an objectively reasonable basis to arrest Davis and the arrest warrant for his body was
based on the alleged assault I.B., the court finds that Detective Pfaffs subjective reason(s) and/or
motivation(s) for obtaining the warrant are of no consequence in the reasonableness determination.
Detective Pfaffs hope of finding evidence from the unsolved homicide when arresting Davis
pursuant to the valid arrest warrant does not render that arrest or the seizure of evidence illegal.
In view of the foregoing, the court finds that the officers had: an objective, reasonable basis
for believing that execution of the arrest warrant to be high-risk; and acted reasonably in executing
the warrant without adhering to the knock and announce rule.
C. The Validity of the Officers' Reliance on the Arrest Warrant's Authority
Finally, the court finds that, even if the officers' decision to forego adherence to the knock
and announce rule and their actions were unreasonable-which the court has concluded they were
not-the officers' good faith reliance on a valid search warrant rendered Davis' arrest and the
seizure of the firearm valid. In United States v. Leon, the Court created an exception to the
exclusionary rule, which instructs that, under the good faith exception, "suppression of evidence
is inappropriate when an officer executes a search in objectively reasonable reliance on a warrant's
authority." United States v. Hodge, 246 F.3d 301, 307 (3d Cir. 2001) (citation omitted); see
generally United States v. Leon, 468 U.S. 897 (1984). Indeed, the mere existence of a warrant
typically justifies application ofthe exception. See Hodge, 246 F.3d at 307-08. Here, Davis, as
his counsel explained during the evidentiary hearing, does not contest that the arrest warrant in
this case was, in fact, valid. 8 See Tr. at 3:23-4:8. The court likewise agrees that it was a valid
warrant for an assault-related arrest. Thus, because the officers here relied upon the valid arrest
warrant in entering Davis' residence and upon the valid search warrant when searching the
residence, Davis' motion is likewise denied under the good faith doctrine as it relates to reliance
on a valid warrant. 9
For the foregoing reasons, the court hereby denies the defendant's motion to suppress.
Dated: July .3Q 2013
8 Specifically, the court engaged in the following discussion with Davis' counsel at the outset of the
Court: [I]t is your contention, Mr. Brose, that [the SWAT Team] entered on the authority, actually
constitutionality, of the arrest warrant. And the search warrant, as I understood from our last
teleconference, is really not at issue?
Davis' Counsel, Mr. Brose: It is not at issue, Your Honor .... There may be issues related to the
probable cause underneath the initial search warrant [for the body of Davis] that are factually related
to our argument. But it's not going to be related to a claim that the warrant itself was issued
Court: You are not contesting the four comers of the warrant.
Mr. Brose: Correct.
Tr. at 3:13-4:8.
9 The court notes that Davis also argues in his briefing that the officers in this case did not obtain a "no-knock
warrant," and that this failure should impact the court's analysis because the decision to execute a warrant without
knocking and announcing should be determined by a neutral magistrate. (D.I. 20 at 7.) However, under Delaware
law, there is no statute authorizing the issuance of a no-knock warrant by a magistrate judge. State of Delaware v.
Backus, 2002 Del. Super. LEXIS 484, No. 0106010649, at *13 (Del. Super. Nov. 18, 2002). Thus, it is clear to the
court that the decision of whether to knock when executing a warrant is left to the discretion of the officers. Captain
Browne detailed the same understanding in his testimony. See Tr. at 20:15-21:1. Consequently, the court disagrees
with Davis that the WPD officers' failure to obtain a no-knock warrant should be considered and/or should impact the
analysis. See, e.g., United States v. Davis, 131 S. Ct. 2428, 2429 (2011) (noting that "responsible law-enforcement
officers will take care to learn what is required of them under Fourth Amendment precedent and will conform their
conduct to these rules" and concluding that officers can rely in good faith on prior judicial precedent).
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF DELAWARE
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
TYRONE K. DAVIS,
Criminal Action No. 12-cr-70 (GMS)
For the reasons stated in the court's Memorandum Opinion of this same date, IT IS HEREBY
1. The defendant's Motion to Suppress Evidence (D.I. 14) is DENIED.
Dated: July' J, 2013