Are All Statements Obtained from Victims or Witnesses by Police Officers Responding to Emergency Calls Be Used In Court ?
In People v. Kilday, 20 Cal.Rptr. 3d 161, 123 Cal. App. 4th 406 (Cal. Ct. App. 2004), the defendant raised Crawford challenges to three separate statements the victim made to several police officers, each of, which described the nature of an alleged assault and implicated the defendant as the assailant.
Two of these statements, which were made after the victim's safety and medical concerns were attended to and for the purpose of obtaining evidence in anticipation of a potential criminal prosecution, were found to constitute testimonial evidence.
However, a third statement, which was provided at the scene of the alleged crime to two responding officers upon their arrival, was found not to be testimonial in nature.
In reaching this decision, the Kilday court first noted that when the officers encountered the victim she was frightened and upset, the area was unsecured, and the situation they were entering was uncertain.
Further, the responding officers were unaware of the nature of the crime, the identity of the alleged assailant, or the medical concerns of the victim.
Based on this evidence, the court concluded:
"The responding officers were not producing evidence in anticipation of a potential criminal prosecution in eliciting basic facts from the victim about the nature and cause of her injuries.
In reaching this conclusion, we do not adopt a blanket rule that all statements obtained from victims or witnesses by police officers responding to emergency calls are necessarily nontestimonial.
The determination of whether a statement obtained through police questioning in the field is testimonial requires a case-specific, fact-based inquiry.
Under Crawford, this inquiry must center around whether the officer involved was acting in an investigative capacity to produce evidence in anticipation of a potential criminal prosecution.