United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Florence Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT'S
MOTION TO SUPPRESS
GEIGER LEWIS UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Government charged Defendant Tony Dewayne Rollins (Rollins)
in a one-count indictment for being a felon in possession of
a firearm in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 922(g)(1),
924(a)(2), and 924(e). Pending before the Court are
Rollins's motions to suppress the firearm and ammunition
discovered during the search as well as his incriminating
statements made to police shortly thereafter (motions to
suppress). Rollins is represented by counsel. Having
carefully considered both motions, the response, the
supplemental response, oral argument, the record, and the
applicable law, it is the judgment of the Court Rollins's
motions to suppress will be granted.
case arises out of a search and seizure of a residence where
Rollins was located on November 8, 2018. In his motions to
suppress, Rollins argues (1) it was unlawful for the police
to open the door to the residence and (2) Rollins's
subsequent statements were made subsequent to his
unconstitutional arrest and in violation of Miranda.
See ECF Nos. 36, 45.
December 18, 2018, the Government filed a one-count
indictment against Rollins, ECF No. 1, charging him with
violations of 18 U.S.C. §§ 922(g)(1), 924(a)(2),
and 924(e) for being a felon in possession of a firearm and
ammunition. On April 2, 2019, Rollins filed his first motion
to suppress, in which he asked this Court to suppress the
physical evidence discovered during the allegedly unlawful
search and the subsequent statements Rollins made to police.
ECF No. 36. On June 4, 2019, the Government filed its
response in opposition. ECF No. 44. On June 26, 2019, Rollins
filed his second motion to suppress, in which he included
additional argument regarding the alleged Miranda
violation. ECF No. 45. On July 9, 2019, the Court held a
hearing on both motions to suppress and took the matter under
advisement pending supplemental briefing from the Government,
which the Government submitted on August 22, 2019. ECF No.
FINDINGS OF FACT
Court determines the following facts by a preponderance of
the evidence. See United States v. Matlock, 415 U.S.
164, 177 n.14 (1974) (“[T]he controlling burden of
proof at suppression hearings should impose no greater burden
than proof by a preponderance of the evidence.”
(citation omitted)); United States v. Stevenson, 396
F.3d 538, 541 (4th Cir. 2005) (“In the course of
deciding a motion to suppress, the district court may make
findings of fact. . . .”).
November 8, 2018, Officers Parker and Reynolds of the Myrtle
Beach Police Department responded to an
“open-line” 911 call from a residence located at
1400 Fischer Drive, Apartment 102-C, Myrtle Beach, South
Carolina. ECF No. 54 at 2. An “open-line” 911
call is one in which the caller fails to respond when the
dispatcher answers the call, but the call remains open and
the dispatcher can hear noise in the room or area. Transcript
at 6. During the call, dispatch heard a male and female in
the background, and heard the female say, “Get out of
my house” several times. Id.
Parker and Reynolds arrived at the residence several minutes
after the 911 call and upon approaching the front door, they
observed it was “ajar”. Id. at 28. At
the suppression hearing, Parker testified “ajar”
meant “[the door] was not latched” but she and
Reynolds could not see into the residence as they approached.
Id. at 28, 48. Reynolds knocked on the door, waited
approximately 14 seconds, and knocked again. Reynolds Body
Worn Camera (BWC) at 20:29:14. According to Reynolds, he was
“trying to…make sure there [was] no one inside
the [apartment] that could still be in danger…I know
from earlier that there [was] a female inside and she was
telling someone to get out. And I want[ed] to make sure that
whoever that was[, ] was not still in there and whoever the
female was[, ] [was] not injured.” Transcript at 39-40.
Reynolds knocked a second time, he knocked with such force he
opened the door to the apartment at the same time Ms. Tameka
Johnson (Johnson) appeared. Reynolds BWC at 20:29:29. As
Johnson appeared, Reynolds announced it was the police and
Johnson almost immediately said, “Everything okay, I
guess.” Id. at 20:29:39. The officers asked
her to come outside and talk to them and asked if they could
enter the residence. Id. at 20:29:45. Johnson denied
both officers' requests to enter the residence.
Transcript at 29, 47. Parker, who began talking to Johnson
when she came out of the residence, testified Johnson was not
bruised, bloody, or trembling in fear. Id. at 30.
Parker testified that at this point, she did not know if
Johnson was the instigator or the victim, or anything else
about what happened. Id. Parker also testified that
as of this time, both officers had no reason to suspect any
firearm was involved in the incident. Id. at 31.
Parker was speaking to Johnson, Reynolds was still standing
at the door of the residence. As the door was closing under
its own power following his forceful second knock, Reynolds
put his boot in the doorjamb to keep the door open and
crossed the threshold into the residence. Parker BWC at
02:10:40-02:11:10. According to Reynolds, he “open[ed]
the door…[and] shine[d] [his flashlight] inside”
so that he could see into the residence. Transcript at 51.
After Reynolds shined his flashlight into the residence, he
observed a bullet laying on the floor of the living room.
Parker BWC at 02:11:44. Rollins then came to the door and
followed Reynolds's instruction to walk outside.
Rollins came outside, Parker told Johnson to show her where
the gun was. Parker BWC at 02:12:40. Parker then followed
Johnson to a bedroom, where Johnson located a firearm in the
dresser. Id. at 02:13:12. At no point did either
officer receive consent to enter the residence after Johnson
had initially told them they could not enter. Reynolds, who
was outside with Rollins while Parker was attempting to
locate the gun, asked Rollins to tell him the location of the
gun. Rollins replied, “What gun? I ain't got no
gun. What gun? I don't know nothing about no gun.”
Reynolds BWC at 20:32:40.
the gun was discovered, Rollins told Reynolds, “It
wasn't cocked. She must have cocked it.” Reynolds
BWC 20:37:44. A few moments later, while handcuffed and
seated on the ground outside of the residence, Rollins told