Ch 1.2 Arrest/Prob Cause
STATE OF NEW JERSEY v. BASIL
Supreme Court of New Jersey
202 N.J. 570 (2010)
QUESTION: In the circumstances below, did the police have probable cause to arrest defendant, Eugene Basil?
CIRCUMSTANCES: In February, at approximately 1:00 a.m., Jersey City Officers Anthony Ruocco and William Sullivan, as well as other police units, responded to an anonymous 9-1-1 report of a "man with a shotgun" at 199 Bidwell Avenue. Upon his arrival at that address, Officer Ruocco observed three black males, including defendant, Eugene Basil, in the area. Ruocco was approached by a young woman who told him that she was standing on the corner with a group of people when defendant "pointed a shotgun in her direction," and said, " 'Get off the corner.' She also stated that she saw defendant throw the shotgun underneath a black Cadillac. As the woman spoke to Ruocco, 'she was shaking a little bit' and her 'voice was elevated.' " Id. at 578. At that point, defendant was detained by Officer Ruocco while Officers Sullivan and Chet Mecca recovered the unloaded shotgun from underneath the Cadillac. "Following the young woman's statement and the discovery of the shotgun, defendant was placed in the back of a police car." Id.
"The young woman told Officer Ruocco that she lived in the area but nothing else about herself. She said she did not want to speak with any detectives or become involved in the case 'because she was scared for her safety.' Officer Ruocco did not get her name, address, or telephone number. The young woman just 'left [and] walked away.' " Id.
Officer Ruocco transported defendant to the district police station, where defendant remarked, "What the problem, you guys don't do your job. So I went inside and got my shotgun." Id. at 578-79. At that point, Ruocco formally placed defendant under arrest.
ANSWER: YES. The on-the-scene identification by the "citizen informant and corroborative discovery of the shotgun gave the officers probable cause to arrest defendant." Id. at 576.