Officers obtained a search warrant for a basement apartment residence. As the search team prepared to execute the warrant, two officers, were conducting surveillance in an unmarked car outside the residence. The officers observed two men, including the defendant, depart the gated area above the basement apartment and get into car parked in the driveway. It did not appear to the officers that the defendant and his companion were aware of the impending intrusion or their presence. The officers observed the car leave the driveway and followed it for approximately one mile before pulling it over. The officers got the men out of the stopped vehicle, placed both in handcuffs and had them taken back to the apartment. The search team found contraband in the apartment and the defendant was placed under arrest. His keys were seized and found to be capable of opening the door to the apartment.
Whether the Summers doctrine permitted the defendant to be seized more than one mile away from the location of the search?
No. The Summers doctrine rests on three important law enforcement interests, none of which were prompted in this case.
The Supreme Court noted the Summers Doctrine permits law enforcement officers to seize persons at the scene of a search warrant for the execution of that warrant. The Summers Court created this authority for three reasons: (1) officer safety, (2) facilitating the completion of the search, and (3) preventing flight. There was no evidence that any of these interests were placed in jeopardy by the defendant’s actions in this case in that his absence from the premises did not interfere with the execution of the warrant. Summers provided guidance regarding how the government was to handle occupants found at the scene of a search warrant rather that create an opportunity to introduce otherwise occupied persons to the search warrant process. The Summers Court noted the detention of a current occupant “represents only an incremental intrusion on personal liberty when the search of a home has been authorized by a valid warrant” as compared to the defendant’s seizure here, which was beyond the bounds anticipated by the Court.
568 U.S. ___, 133 S. Ct. 1031 (2013)