State v. Mann
In State v. Mann, 271 Conn. 300, 857 A.2d 329, 333 (Conn. 2004), the police received information of drug activity at an apartment. The police knocked on the apartment door, which the defendant opened. Id. Upon seeing the police, the defendant attempted to close the door with his left hand and simultaneously reached his right hand into his right pocket. Id. at 333, 334.
In response, Officer Rubino drew his gun, entered the apartment, placed the defendant against a wall, and conducted a pat-down search for weapons. Id. at 333. During the pat-down search, Officer Rubino felt what he believed were drugs in the defendant's right pocket, which were seized and used to prosecute the defendant. Id.
The Connecticut Supreme Court held that Officer Rubino had acted in a constitutionally permissible fashion in conducting the pat-down search because the "overwhelming" interest in promoting police safety outweighed the intrusion into the defendant's privacy. Id. at 340-41.
The court acknowledged that although the police had a reasonable basis to suspect that the apartment was the site of illicit drug trafficking, "they had no reason to suspect, in contrast to the officer in Terry, that any particular individual was involved in the suspected illegal activity." Id. at 342 n.17.
The court determined that reasonable suspicion that the defendant was involved in criminal activity was not necessary to justify the pat-down search because, as in Terry, the officer's initial encounter with the defendant was lawful. Id.
The court stated that the crux of Terry was whether the officer's intrusion was reasonably justified by the need for self-protection. Id. The court concluded:
Thus, as a general matter, it would be unreasonable to conclude that the fourth amendment bars an officer from patting down a person for weapons, if the officer has a reasonable and articulable suspicion that that person is armed and potentially dangerous, whenever, in the discharge of his official duties, the officer lawfully encounters such a person. In other words, as long as the officer reasonably suspects that a person whom he has lawfully encountered is armed and dangerous, the officer's interest in conducting a limited patdown search for weapons will outweigh that individual's privacy interest in being free from that intrusion.