There is no evidence that Deputy Kyle’s entry into apartment B and subsequent warrant check reflected flagrantly unlawful police misconduct.
State v. Kolle
2022 – Ohio – 2459
Fayette County, Ohio
July 18, 2022
On Thursday January 24, 2019, Fayette County Deputy Sheriff Charles Kyle was dispatched to an apartment complex in Washington Court House, Ohio regarding the report of a disturbance in apartment C.
Upon arriving at the complex, Deputy Kyle observed several individuals milling around in the parking lot. Upon questioning the individuals, the deputy learned that the disturbance had actually occurred in front of the apartment complex, that some of the people involved in the disturbance had left the area, and that several individuals involved in the disturbance had entered apartment B. Deputy Kyle went to apartment B and knocked on the door. Mr. Shawn Antis, a person known by the deputy to be an occupant of the apartment, opened the door. The deputy briefly spoke with Mr. Antis and advised him why he was there. Upon the deputy’s request, Mr. Antis permitted him to enter the apartment.
Once inside, Deputy Kyle observed six to eight individuals, asked the individuals about the disturbance, and conducted warrant checks on all the individuals, including Mr. Kolle. Upon discovering there was an outstanding warrant for Mr. John Kolle, Deputy Kyle arrested him. While Mr. Kolle was incarcerated in the jail, he made several telephone calls related to drug trafficking.
Mr. Kolle was indicted on November 20, 2019, on three counts of aggravated trafficking in drugs. On November 26, 2019, Mr. Kolle was served with the indictment and was arraigned. At the time, Mr. Kolle was awaiting trial on unrelated charges in Franklin County. Mr. Kolle was incarcerated in the Franklin County jail on the Fayette County indictment and the Franklin County charges for the entire pendency of this case. Mr. Kolle had more time in courtrooms than new attorneys.
Motion to Suppress
Mr. Kolle filed a Motion to Suppress the narcotics that led to his drug trafficking charge. The motion focused on a claim that Deputy Kyle violated the Fourth Amendment when he crossed the threshold of the apartment. On September 30, 2021, the trial court denied Mr. Kolle’s Motion to Suppress. The next day, the trial court sentenced Mr. Kolle to an agreed twelve-month prison term.
Mr. Kolle argues the trial court erred in denying his motion to suppress. Mr. Kolle asserts that his Fourth Amendment rights were violated because Deputy Kyle did not have a reasonable articulable suspicion to enter apartment B in the first instance and conduct a warrant check on all of those present.
A presumption of unreasonableness attaches to all warrantless home entries. Fletcher at. However, “[W]hen law enforcement officers who are not armed with a warrant knock on a door, they do no more than any private citizen might do.” Kentucky v. King, 563 U.S. 452, 469 (2011). A “knock and talk” by law enforcement is a “[P]ermissible warrantless intrusion” that does not require “any objective level of suspicion.” State v. Fletcher, 12th Dist. Brown 2017-Ohio-1006 at 31.
We find that Deputy Kyle’s actions in entering apartment B and conducting a warrant check did not violate Mr. Kolle’s Fourth Amendment rights. While investigating a disturbance complaint at the apartment complex, Deputy Kyle went to apartment B, knocked on the door, and talked to Mr. Antis. As stated above, a law enforcement officer’s “knock and talk” is a “permissible warrantless intrusion” that does not require “any objective level of suspicion.” Mr. Antis was a person known by the deputy to be an occupant of the apartment. At the suppression hearing, Mr. Kolle testified that Mr. Antis was temporarily residing in the apartment. Upon the deputy’s request, Mr. Antis permitted him to enter the apartment. Once inside, the deputy conducted a warrant check on the individuals in the apartment, including Mr. Kolle. Deputy Kyle testified that he routinely conducts a warrant check when coming in contact with people while investigating a complaint. Moreover, the deputy’s decision to conduct the warrant check was a “negligibly burdensome precaution” for officer’s safety. See Rodriguez v. United States, 575 U.S. 348 (2015). Once Deputy Kyle discovered the warrant, he had the obligation to arrest Mr. Kolle as a “[W]arrant is a judicial mandate to an officer to conduct a search or make an arrest, and the officer has a sworn duty to carry out its provisions.” United States v. Leon, 468 U.S. 897, 920, fn. 21 (1984).
There is no evidence that Deputy Kyle’s entry into apartment B and subsequent warrant check reflected flagrantly unlawful police misconduct. In light of the foregoing, the trial court did not err in denying Mr. Kolle’s motion to suppress. Mr. Kolle’s second assignment of error is overruled.
Information for this article was obtained from State v. Kolle, 2022 – Ohio – 2459.
This case was issued by the Twelfth District Appellate Court which is only binding in the following Ohio Counties: Brown, Butler, Clermont, Clinton, Fayette, Madison, Preble and Warren.
- The first legal challenge is Deputy Kyle’s entry into the apartment. Though the court does not spend much time analyzing this challenge it centers on whether the deputy had consent to enter, not that it was a knock and talk. Law enforcement officers can cross the threshold of a doorway three ways; Consent, Warrant [Arrest or Search] or an Exigent Circumstance – an actual and on-going emergency. In this case Mr. Antis provided Deputy Kyle consent to cross the threshold. The fact that the deputy was conducting a knock and talk does not have that much relevance.
- The Twelfth District Appellate Court glosses over whether the occupants were under investigative detention at the moment the deputy received their information to conduct warrant checks. However, the court does provide a head scratching foundation – officer safety. The deputy asked and received consent to enter the apartment. Once he was inside the court ‘justifies’ the warrant check for ‘his’ safety? Logically, if the officer was in danger – real or perceived, he should not have asked for consent to enter. The court essentially holds that the officer placed himself in danger and the only way to dispel his safety was to conduct a warrant check. Huh? The court specifically stated “Moreover, the deputy’s decision to conduct the warrant check was a “negligibly burdensome precaution” for officer’s safety.”. Additionally, if a person has an active warrant, that in and of itself does not create a danger to officer safety. Why? Because the opposite is not true. Just because someone does not have a warrant, does not mean that person is not a danger to the officer. People without warrants can most certainly be dangerous to officers.
- Once incarcerated Mr. Kolle used the Fairfield County Jail phone to incriminate himself in other drug deals. That part of the case is not analyzed in this article.
- I am pleased that the Twelfth District Appellate Court held in the deputy’s favor but how the court analyzed and concluded this case is head-scratching at best.
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