Mendez v. Colorado

In Mendez v. Colorado, 986 P.2d 275 (Colo. 1999), cert. denied, 529 U.S. 1070 (2000), an officer who was investigating trespassers inside a hotel smelled burning marijuana coming from one of the hotel rooms. He summoned another officer and the hotel manager, and, "fearing that the occupant of the room had heard the police activity in the hallway and would attempt to flush evidence of the drug use down the motel room toilet," the officer asked the manager to open the room. 986 P.2d at 278. When he stepped into the room, the officer observed the occupant run into the bathroom and flush the toilet. He seized marijuana located in plain view and other drugs found on the occupant's person. The Supreme Court of Colorado concluded that the warrantless entry was justified because "there was a very real and substantial likelihood that contraband would continue to be destroyed before a warrant could be obtained to search the motel room." Id. at 282. The court also reasoned that "the exigencies arising in this case were not foreseeable and a warrant could not have readily been obtained," because the officer was present "on the premises to investigate an unrelated complaint when he inadvertently encountered the smell of burning marijuana." Id.