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Criminal Law Keyed to Gershowitz
Commonwealth v. Hill
Citation:264 Va. 541, 570 S.E.2d 805.
On July 9, 1999, at 1:21 a.m., officer Fromme received a dispatch report, which was based on an anonymous telephone call, stating that two black males were “possibly dealing firearms” outside of a green house. He went to the scene and saw the defendant and another person sitting in a car that was parked in front of a green house. Fromme did not observe any suspicious activity as they approached the car. The defendant and his friend complied with the officers’ request that he get out of the car.
The officer explained that he had received a complaint about two suspects “possibly dealing weapons,” and that, for reasons concerning safety, he wanted to pat them down to determine whether they carried any firearms. Fromme patted down the defendant’s left side without encountering any resistance. However, as Fromme attempted to pat down the defendant’s right side, the defendant hand away and struck the officer in the mouth with his open hand, splitting hit lip. The defendant was able to run a short distance because officers were able to place him in handcuffs, and he struck Fromme “a couple times” during this struggle. No weapons were found on his person but they did find cocaine.
He was convicted of assault and battery of a law enforcement officer. He appealed, and the Court of Appeals reversed, concluding that the defendant’s physical resistance “to an illegal detention and search was reasonable and proportionate to the conduct of the police.”
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