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United States v. Grant

United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Charleston Division

June 6, 2018

DAVID GRANT, Defendant.



         This matter is before the court on a motion to suppress filed by defendant David Grant (“Grant”). For the reasons set forth below, the court denies the motion.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Grant is charged with selling heroin from a residence at 2045 Delaware Avenue in North Charleston. On April 26, 2017, the North Charleston narcotics unit worked with a confidential informant to orchestrate a drug deal between Grant and the CI. The drug deal was captured on video and audio recording. ECF No. 52, Ex. 1 Incident report. The North Charleston Narcotics Unit then obtained an arrest warrant for Grant based on that information. On May 5, 2017, officers conducted surveillance on what they believed to be Grant's house at 2681 Houston Street. While conducting surveillance, the officers observed Grant leave his house and proceeded to initiate a traffic stop. During the traffic stop, officers provided Grant with Miranda warnings and arrested him on his outstanding arrest warrant. Officers also questioned Grant about where he had hidden drugs, and he told the officers that he had drugs in the nightstand of his house at Houston Street. A search warrant was obtained on May 5, 2017 to search 2681 Houston Street. However, the search warrant has competing addresses-the face of the search warrant is for 2681 Houston Street but the “probable cause” section of the warrant states that probable cause for issuing the search warrant stemmed from information that the North Charleston Narcotics Unit received from the confidential informant that drugs were being packaged, distributed, and used at 3438 Navajo Street. Officers recovered sixty bags of heroin and various drug paraphernalia from the search at 2681 Houston Street.

         On August 8, 2017, Grant was indicted with two counts of possession with intent to distribute heroin, one count of felon in possession of a firearm, and one count of use of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime. On January 20, 2018, Grant filed this motion to suppress. The government responded on May 10, 2018. On May 22, 2018, the court held a hearing on this motion during which the parties produced testimony from the involved law enforcement officers and exhibits. The motion has been fully briefed and is now ripe for the court's review.


         Grant makes two arguments that the evidence found at his home at 2681 Houston Street should be suppressed. First, that the search warrant was invalid because it was not based on probable cause to search the premises identified in the warrant. Second, that he did not receive any Miranda warnings before making statements to officers during the traffic stop. The court addresses and rejects each argument.

         A. Search Warrant

         Grant first argues that the evidence should be suppressed because the search warrant was invalid, as it was not based on probable cause to search the premises identified in the warrant.

         The search warrant stated that the location to be searched was “2681 Houston Street North Charleston, SC 29405, ” and issued May 5, 2017. The cover sheet of the search warrant issued was also to 2681 Houston Street. Furthermore, the “description of premises to be searched” also stated that the location to be searched was 2681 Houston Street, North Charleston, SC 29405, and describes the location as “a single story, single family home; with light tan in color siding and a light brown shutters and trim. If one is looking at the front of the residence the driveway is on the right side of the residence and to the left is the front porch which is where the front door of the residence is located.” However, the body of the search warrant under the section entitled “reason for affiant's belief that the property sought is on the subject premises” states:

“Since the affidavit is being submitted for the limited purpose of securing authorization to search the evidence at 3438 Navajo Street in North Charleston, SC 29405.”

         This page contains the signature of the judge at the bottom of the page, and each page of the search warrant was initialed by the judge. And importantly, it sets out the probable cause determination. Specifically, it states that the North Charleston Narcotics Unit received information about illegal drugs being packaged, distributed, and used from “the above location” by Grant. The probable cause section of the search warrant further states that detectives conducted surveillance “at the location which is the target's residence” and after observing Grant leave his residence and drive off, the officers conducted a traffic stop and eventually took him into custody. It was during this traffic stop that Grant stated that there was a quantity of heroin in his bedroom under the nightstand.

         During the hearing on this motion, the government presented testimony from James Ford (“Ford”), a detective with the Narcotics unit of the North Charleston Police Department. Ford became involved in this investigation in response to a citizen complaint about Grant selling narcotics in the neighborhood of Union Heights in North Charleston. In response to the complaint, Ford decided to use a confidential informant (“CI”) who knew Grant. In April 2017, the CI was brought into the North Charleston Police Department and wired with audio and video recording. Ford then initiated a controlled purchase between Grant and the CI. Grant gave the CI 0.5 grams of heroin, and the purchase was recorded on audio and video. With this information, Ford drafted an arrest warrant for Grant. Ford testified that he located Grant's address with a search on the public Department of Motor Vehicle database, and that the address was 2681 Houston Street. The CI confirmed that the Houston Street address was Grant's residence, and upon visual observation Ford confirmed that it was the vehicle that was registered to Grant in the DMV database that was parked at the Houston Street address.

         For safety reasons, Ford decided to serve the arrest warrant on Grant by initiating a traffic stop. North Charleston Police Department officer Catherine Kirkland (“Kirkland”) and Ford conducted surveillance on the Houston Street address and observed Grant leave his residence in the automobile registered to him on the DMV website, at which point Kirkland initiated a traffic stop to serve the arrest warrant. After Grant was handcuffed, Ford approached Grant to give him a verbal Miranda warning and question him. Ford asked Grant if he had any contraband, to which Grant responded “yeah I had been selling a little bit” and that he had sixty bags of heroin “at my house” in his nightstand. Ford understood Grant's location of “at my house” as the 2681 Houston Street address, which was the address listed as Grant's residence on the DMV database, the address that the CI confirmed was Grant's address, and the address that Ford and Kirkland observed Grant leave from on the morning of his arrest. Based on this information, Ford believed that he had probable cause to conduct a search of Grant's residence at 2681 Houston Street. Ford testified that another detective with the North Charleston Police Department typed up the search ...

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