Gun control, gun rights, and the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution are touchy subjects. The Forth Amendment about Search and Seizure is an equally sensitive topic. The true case summarized below will involve both Constitution Amendments.
Walmart was busy the day a wheelchair bound 41-year-old man entered the store. Like any other day, an employee worked in the vestibule area, greeting customers and checking purchases as customers approached the exit.
The employee assisted the handicapped man, paralyzed by a previous gunshot wound, move from his wheelchair to a motorized cart provided to shoppers by Walmart. That cart didn’t function, so the employee assisted him into a different cart. Once settled, the man drove away from the vestibule and into the store. Realizing he didn’t have his cell phone, he returned to the vestibule area where he told the employee he thought he had misplaced his phone during the transition to the replacement cart.
Using the cart he was in, the man went to his vehicle to look for his phone. The employee looked under the pad on his wheelchair seat. She didn’t find the phone, instead she found a .357 caliber revolver and promptly told her supervisor. The supervisor found the local police officer on duty assignment at Walmart and briefed her on the situation.
When the officer entered the vestibule, the employee directed the officer to the wheelchair and told her the weapon was under the wheelchair pad. The officer took possession of the weapon. Then the officer and the man went to a security office. The man informed the officer the weapon was not his. In fact, he was on probation for a gun conviction and could not possess a firearm. He also disclosed that he lived alone.
After reading the man his Miranda rights, the officer did a pat-down search and found thirteen bags of cocaine in the man’s underwear. The officer arrested the man. Months later, a jury found him guilty of being a felon in possession of a firearm (violating the Second Amendment prohibition on the possession of firearms by felons), possessing crack and powder cocaine with the intent to distribute, and possessing a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime. A judge sentenced him to over seven years in federal prison.
Often, after a guilty verdict, a defendant will file an appeal, which may still happen in this case. What has happened so far, the defendant filed a Motion to Suppress and a Motion to Dismiss. A judge denied the Motion to Suppress regarding unreasonable search and seizure, stating,
“The officer did not exceed the scope of the private search conducted by the Walmart employee and therefore did not violate the defendant’s Fourth Amendment rights.”
The same judge denied the Motion to Suppress regarding the same claim that the officer violated the man’s Fourth Amendment rights, arguing the evidence about the search should’ve been suppressed. #guncontrol #searchandseizure
This crime leaves me with questions to which I’ll never know the answers….
Did the man illegally possess a weapon for self-protection because of his disability? Or….
Did the man plan to use the firearm inside Walmart to harm customers?
Source: USA Department of Justice, USA District Court