A Baton Rouge man accused of possessing makeshift explosive devices claims a February police search of his trailer was unlawful, and he's asking a federal judge to bar prosecutors from using any evidence seized during the search at his trial.
A man who had several homemade bombs confiscated from his Baton Rouge trailer will remain in…
An AR-15 style rifle, three smoke bombs, two homemade grenades that were filled with BBs, and 155 grams of marijuana were found during the "protective sweep" of the Winchester Avenue trailer, according to federal prosecutors who are opposing Jordan Sergent's motion to suppress.
A man approached the security guard at a Winchester trailer park earlier this month and told…
Sergent, 24, also wants U.S. District Judge James Brady to suppress the statements he made to authorities. Sergent told Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives agents who were called to the scene that the explosives belonged to him and that he had learned how to make them on social media.
Brady has scheduled a hearing on the matter for Monday.
Sergent is being held in federal custody.
A federal magistrate found probable cause Wednesday to hold a Baton Rouge man charged in a c…
Police went to the trailer park after a security guard reported that an occupant of the trailer in question approached him and told him to stop watching him because he had a trailer full of guns.
When police arrived, according to Sergent's suppression motion, they saw Sergent through the open door sitting inside and could smell marijuana coming from the trailer. They also observed what appeared to be the butt of a rifle just inside the door. It turned out to be a pellet gun.
Assistant Federal Public Defender Dustin Talbot claims that the warrantless entry and search of the trailer were illegal.
"BRPD Officers entered the trailer without obtaining a warrant or consent, and there was neither probable cause nor exigent circumstances which would justify the entrance into the trailer," he argues in the motion. "Thus, the inquiry into whether the protective sweep was lawful should end here — it was not lawful."
Probable cause exists when under a totality of the circumstances there is a fair probability that contraband or evidence of a crime will be found in a particular place, Talbot said. As a general rule, he added, exigent circumstances exist when there is a genuine risk that officers or innocent bystanders will be endangered, that suspects will escape, or that evidence will be destroyed if entry is delayed until a warrant can be obtained.
Nothing in the police reports suggests that the officers had reason to believe there was an occupant — "let alone an armed and dangerous occupant" — remaining in the bedrooms of the trailer where the evidence was recovered, Talbot argues.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Adam Ptashkin noted in a court-filed opposition to Sergent's motion that police had information that the trailer park previously had problems with illegal drug distribution and other crimes.
Ptashkin also said that when Sergent and a woman exited the trailer, they lied to police about whether anyone else was in the trailer, even though an officer had just seen another man in the trailer. That man eventually came out before police entered the trailer.
Ptashkin contends police had a "reasonable, articulable suspicion" that there were other people and weapons in the trailer "that posed a threat to officer safety, and thus a protective sweep was justified."
The prosecutor said it is critical to consider the perspective of a reasonable officer in this situation and what a reasonable officer would feel as he stood in front of the trailer that night.
"A man had previously made threatening remarks to a security guard that included the statement that there were guns in the trailer," Ptashkin said. "When officers approached the trailer door, there was an odor of raw marijuana and an officer saw a gun in the trailer."
He added that officers weren't sure if there were others in the trailer and said it was reasonable for them to assume there was a security threat — one that required them to enter the house to retrieve the gun to prevent an officer or someone else from possibly being shot.
The AR-15 style rifle was found in one of the trailer bedrooms protruding from a mattress. The smoke bombs and homemade grenades were found in another bedroom in an opened rifle box, Ptashkin noted. The 155 grams of marijuana included 68 one-gram plastic bags of the drug, he said.