Showup Identification in Massachusetts Assault Case

In a recent case, a man appealed a judge’s ruling on a motion to suppress after being convicted of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon. The case arose when Boston police officers received 911 telephone calls that reported a robbery on a street near the intersection of Coolidge Road.

An officer arrived shortly after that and spoke with a male and a female victim. The female victim told the officer she and her boyfriend had been robbed and beaten by fifteen black men.

Another officer responding to the call saw an SUV coming the wrong way on the road. He followed because of the violation of traffic rules. He also turned on the blue lights of his cruiser in order to stop the SUV. Even though the windows were tinted, the officer could see there were a number of people in the SUV.

While the officer was requesting driver’s license and registration, the driver saw two other males and a female in the back of the SUV. Other officers arrived as Ford was approaching the SUV. While he was requesting documentation, he heard more information from the radio about the robbery.

He asked the driver to get out of the SUV so he could frisk him for weapons. The officer saw a cell phone on the driver’s side. The defendant said he was just driving around visiting friends. Another officer asked everyone to get out of the SUV and asked that the victims to be brought over for purposes of identification.

The SUV occupants were brought into the police cruiser floodlights for identification by a female victim. From a safe distance, the victim identified various occupants of the SUV as the people who had attacked her. These occupants were arrested and charged.

The defendants filed a motion to suppress. The judge denied the motions to suppress. He decided the stop was lawful because the officer had stopped the SUV on the basis of the one-way street violations. The totality of all the officers’ information gave them a reasonable and articulable basis to suspect that the occupants were involved in the robbery and assaults.

The defendants conceded on appeal that the original stop was justified. However, they argued that after the driver produced a valid driver’s license and answered the officer’s questions, the SUV should have been released. In their view, the occupants did not fit the victims’ description.

The appellate court explained it was reasonable for the officers to suspect the occupants of the SUV for the attack. The SUV was going the wrong way coming from the direction of the scene of the attack. The description was close enough. The officers had safety concerns regarding weapons. The court explained that exit orders were sufficient to cause safety concerns for officers.

The court also found that the identification by the victim at the scene of the stop was not unnecessarily suggestive. In order to get a “showup” defendant must prove by a preponderance of evidence the showup was so unnecessarily suggestive and conducive to an erroneous identification that he was denied due process of law. The appellate court affirmed the ruling on the motion to suppress.

If you were arrested for assault, contact the Law Office of Patrick J. Murphy today to discuss your Massachusetts criminal charges. Call us at 617-367-0450 or through this website.

More Blog Posts:

U.S. Supreme Court Rules in Favor of Defendant in Mandatory Minimum Case Alleyne v. U.S., Boston Criminal Defense Lawyer Blog, published December 19, 2013
Court of Appeals Ruling Affirms Prior Conviction Record Insufficient to Establish Identity, Boston Criminal Defense Lawyer Blog, published December 11, 2013

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