Panel Orders New Trial in Warrantless Arrest
A unanimous Appellate Division, Second Department, panel has vacated the murder conviction of a man who was arrested without a warrant after he tried to close his apartment door on police officers.
Riffas was convicted of second-degree murder in September 2009, following a Brooklyn trial. The four-judge Second Department panel ruled Thursday that statements he made after his arrest should have been suppressed, and ordered a new trial.
Police knocked on Riffas's door at about 6:50 a.m. He answered the door, appearing to be "half asleep" and naked from the waist down, looking at the police from behind the partly open door. When police asked him to come fully into view, he began to close the door. The police then forced their way into his apartment and arrested him.
"Under the discrete circumstances of this case, where the police officers crossed the threshold into the defendant's apartment, pulled him into the hallway, and arrested him without a warrant, the defendant's Fourth Amendment rights were violated," the panel wrote.
The prosecution is represented by Leonard Joblove and Solomon Neubort of the Brooklyn District Attorney's office.
Riffas is represented by Pamela Hayes.
The case is People v. Riffas, 8381/06.