United States District Court, Middle District of North Carolina
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Catherine C. Eagles, District Judge
This matter is before the Court on a motion to suppress filed by the defendant Ronald Powers. (Doc. 10.) Mr. Powers contends that evidence seized during a search of 421 South Lee Street, Salisbury, North Carolina, on May 15, 2012, should be suppressed because the warrant authorizing that search was not supported by a showing of probable cause. The Court finds there was no probable cause and that it was not reasonable for the executing officer to rely on the search warrant, and therefore the Court will grant the motion.
The record reflects and the Court finds that on May 15, 2012, Sergeant N.T. Sides of the Salisbury Police Department applied to the General Court of Justice in Rowan County for a search warrant of 421 South Lee Street in Salisbury. In the application, Sergeant Sides provided the following sworn testimony, set forth in its entirety:
On 05/15/12, Detective Shulenburger, Officers Bouk, Gibson, Benjamin and myself; [sic] went to 421 South Lee Street in an attempt to locate Willie James Johnson Jr. Willie James Johnson Jr. is a black male with a date of birth of [redacted.] Johnson had a warrant for his arrest stemming from the 04/10/2012 robbery of Dominos Pizza (warrant is for armed robbery). In this robbery, two black males entered the store, with black semi-auto handguns, and robbed the establishment of U.S. currency.
Detective Shulenburger and I had received information from a confidential and reliable informant that they had seen Willie Johnson Jr., along with powder cocaine and ecstasy, inside of the residence of 421 South Lee Street, within the past 24 hours. The informant also advised that they [sic] had seen a shotgun inside of the home within the past 72 hours.
It was decided that we would attempt to knock on the door of 421 South Lee Street and see if we could get Willie James Johnson Jr to come out and surrender to us. Officer Benjamin and I went to the front door of the residence while Officers Bouk and Gibson, along with Detective Shulenburger, went to the back of the residence (in case anyone ran). As Officer Benjamin and I pulled up in front of the residence, we heard Officer Gibson yelling in the backyard of the home. It was found that Willie James Johnson Jr, and another black male, ran out of the back of the house upon our arrival. Detective Shulenburger gave chase to Johnson and caught him a short distance later in the woods. Once we secured Johnson we went back to the residence where Officers Bouk and Gibson had secured the residence.
(Doc. 10-1 at 4.)
The application asserted that there was probable cause to believe that evidence of the crimes of “Robbery – Narcotics” was located at 421 South Lee Street. (Id. at 2.) The application sought the seizure of the following:
Any evidence relating to the 04/10/2012 robbery of Domino’s Pizza that would include: any weapons, ammunitions, knives, holster or firearm related articles, fingerprints, shoe prints or impressions, blood or other bodily fluids, clothing, hair, fibers, or any other forensic evidence.
Any Scales, plastic baggies, manila envelopes, sifters, and similar instruments used in the bagging and selling of cocaine or the sale of ecstasy.
A large quantity of paper money in United States Currency.
The following writings, dated and existing over the past six months; utility bills, mailed envelope covers, bank statements, credit card bills, and similar writings to show occupancy, control, and/or possession of the place to be searched.
Any notebooks or telephone records showing or recording the names or telephone numbers of persons likely engaged in the illegal sale of cocaine or other controlled substances.
\Cocaine and/or any other controlled substance included in the North Carolina Controlled Substances Act and possessed in violation of Chapter 90 of ...