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Suppression Court credits details in police report over differing officer accounts at suppression hearing

Cynthia Caul

Commonwealth v. Shabezz, --- A.3d --- , 2015 WL 9304336 (Dec. 21, 2015) 

Sure, Shabezz is a good defense case simply because it represents another example of a published opinion where the Superior Court affirmed the trial court’s grant of suppression because the defendant’s investigatory detention was unsupported by reasonable suspicion.  But the most interesting part of Shabezz is that the trial court, after hearing testimony at a suppression hearing, rejected those portions of police officer testimony that were contradicted by, or omitted from, the officers’ contemporaneously-prepared police reports. 

Indeed, the suppression Court credited only those facts actually contained in the officers’ contemporaneous reports.  It disregarded the additional and/or different facts alleged by the officers at the suppression hearing that weren’t contained in their police reports.  And, because the facts contained in the reports did not rise to the level of reasonable suspicion, the Court granted defendant’s motion to suppress.  The Superior Court, applying its necessarily deferential standard of review to the trial court’s credibility and fact determinations, affirmed.