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United States v. Belser

United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division

November 18, 2016

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
HAROLD BELSER, Defendant.

          ORDER DENYING DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO SUPPRESS [DKT. 14]

          HON. VICTORIA A. ROBERTS UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         I. INTRODUCTION

         Defendant Harold Belser ("Belser") filed this motion to suppress the Government's allegedly illegally seized evidence from his home.

         The Court DENIES Belser's motion.

         II. BACKGROUND

         The Dearborn Police Department received information from a confidential informant ("CI") that Belser was a heroin distributor. The CI told the police that s/he had known Belser for a couple of years and that s/he purchases heroin from Belser at his home. Officers Cpl. T Donaldson and Cpl. Micallef drove the CI to Belser's home and showed him/her Belser's MDOC photo. The CI identified the home as Belser's and identified the person in the photo as Belser, whom the CI knew as ISRAK.

         On August 1, 2016, the police monitored a phone call between the CI and Belser. The CI asked to purchase heroin from Belser. Belser told the CI to come to his home at 8461 Vaughan St. Detroit, Ml to make the purchase.

         Officers gave the CI money recorded with a time/date stamp for the purchase and searched the CI for contraband before s/he entered Belser's home. Cpl. Alkubani observed the CI walk in Belser's home. The officers monitored the CI on a transmitting device. While the device did not record, it transmitted activity to the officers for them to hear.

         Belser did not have the drugs when the CI arrived; he called to have someone bring a delivery to him. While they waited, officers heard the sound of someone in the home racking a handgun. Officers say approximately twenty minutes later an unknown male arrived in a dark Buick to make the delivery. According to officer Donaldson's affidavit, "officers heard what appeared to be a drug transaction between Belser and [the CI]." After the transaction was complete, the unknown male left.

         A couple of minutes later, the police heard someone breathing deeply and gasping for air. They then heard Belser yelling and slapping someone to wake up. After Belser yelled "breathe don't do this to me, " the officers immediately went in the home; they believed the CI overdosed and had a medical emergency.

         When they went inside the home, the officers found the CI slumped over in the living room. Medics responded and revived the CI. Officers searched the CI and found twenty-five packets of fentanyl in the CI's front left pocket. They also searched Belser and found $170 of the pre-recorded money and a cell phone. Officers arrested Belser. They conducted a protective sweep to make sure the home was safe. They secured the residence, and waited for a search warrant to search the home. They obtained a warrant based on the facts stated here.

         After officers took Belser into custody, Sgt. Grandison interviewed him about a triple homicide that occurred on June 6, 2016. In that video-recorded interview, Belser admitted to possessing the handgun found in his home and distributing drugs to the CI.

         On August 23, 2016, the Government indicted Belser on four counts: (1) distribution of a controlled substance; (2) possession of a stolen firearm; (3) felon in possession of a firearm; and, (4) possession of a firearm in furtherance of drug trafficking crime.

         Belser asks the Court to: (1) find that the officers did not have probable cause to arrest him; (2) find that the state court lacked probable cause to issue a search warrant; (3) suppress evidence seized at his home; and, (4) suppress statements he made after his arrest. The Government argues that the search was lawful because of the Emergency Aid Doctrine, and says officers did not coerce Belser to make a confession. Belser also argues that the police cannot create an exigency and then rely on it to excuse a warrantless entry into his home.

         The facts of this case are not in dispute, but the parties dispute the application of the law to the facts.

         III. ...


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