United States v. Wilson (2002) – Case Brief Summary (Federal Court)

In United States v. Wilson, 306 F.3d 231 (5th Cir. 2002), cert. denied, 537 U.S. 1240 (2003 ), as the officers approached a residence, the person under investigation came outside and met the police "about five to six feet outside the apartment." Id. at 234.

After the suspect stated that someone else was inside, the officers entered the apartment and found Wilson in possession of a firearm. Id.

The court upheld the search of the apartment, stating that the authority to conduct a protective sweep pursuant to Maryland v. Buie, 494 U.S. 325 (1990) applied "'even if the arrest is made near the door but outside the lodging' if the arresting officers 'have reasonable grounds to believe that there are other persons present inside who might present a security risk.'" Id. at 238 (quoting United States v. Watson, 273 F.3d 599, 603 (5th Cir. 2001)). The court noted that "nothing but an open door stood between the officers . . . and harm's way." Id. at 239.

Given circumstances permitting an inference that there was a likelihood of firearms inside the apartment, the court concluded that "exigent circumstances existed to justify the officers' warrantless entry into the apartment for the purpose of conducting a protective sweep." Id.