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Forcible Entry Of Police Officers Into An Apartment In DC

The issue of whether there are exigent circumstances to permit the officers' forced entry into an apartment is a mixed question of law and fact. West v. United States, 710 A.2d 866, 868 (D.C. 1998) (citing Griffin v. United States, 618 A.2d 114, 117 (D.C. 1992)).

The requirement that the police knock and announce their presence before entering an individual's home to execute a search warrant "is inherent, at least to some degree, in the Fourth Amendment's prohibition against 'unreasonable searches and seizures.'" citing Poole v. United States, 630 A.2d 1109, 1117 (D.C. 1993).

provides in pertinent part that:

An officer may break open any outer or inner door or window of a house, or any part of a house, or anything therein, to execute the warrant, if, after notice of his authority and purpose, he is refused admittance.

There, we set forth the test that must be satisfied to justify a forced entry based on a fear that the safety of the police may be compromised because of the possible presence and use of weapons:

in this case, we must decide whether the information relied on by the police, that they could encounter three men with guns in their waistbands, coupled with the other practical concerns of Sgt, constituted particularized evidence sufficient to lead to a reasonable belief that their safety would be endangered by waiting longer than they did. We are mindful that exigent circumstances do not exist anytime a search warrant is related to the seizure of guns because "to adopt such a generalized exception to the knock and announce requirement would amount to virtually rewriting this section." Poole, 630 A.2d at 1123.

Under the second prong of Poole's test, the government must show that there was a realistic possibility that the occupants would use the weapons against them. 630 A.2d at 1118. In Poole, we spoke of a person's propensity to use weapons. Id.

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