The Legette Court continued:
Legette and the officer entered Legette’s apartment. Legette presented his identification, and the officer began a radio transmission to check for outstanding warrants. Legette, meanwhile, removed his sweatshirt and asked a woman who was present to take it to the bedroom. The officer interrupted the transmission and collected the sweatshirt from the bedroom. Legette appeared increasingly anxious, so the officer escorted him outside.
The warrant inquiry came back negative, and Legette did not consent to a search of his sweatshirt. The officer seated Legette in his patrol car and had his police dog sniff the sweatshirt. The dog moved the sweatshirt and a metallic noise was heard. The officer then found a loaded handgun in the sweatshirt.
Under the circumstances it seems incredible that the officer himself would not have looked inside the sweatshirt before the canine sniffed it. That is the story that the officer would have told in an effort to avoid suppression of the evidence since the lower standard of reasonable suspicion is required for a canine sniff, as opposed to the higher probable cause standard needed to conduct a search of the sweatshirt. Police are all too willing to lie when they believe that the ends justifies the means, i.e. that it is okay to lie as a means to avoid having an offenders case thrown out of court. Courts are all-too-willing to give credit to illogical testimony like this because they do not want to appear to be soft on crime.
The Court continued:
Legette was indicted on second-degree unlawful possession of a handgun and second-degree possession of a weapon by a convicted person. He moved to suppress the handgun, challenging the validity of the search. The trial court denied the motion. Legette then pleaded guilty to possession of a weapon by a convicted person and was sentenced to a term of five years without parole.
Legette appealed the suppression ruling, but the Appellate Division affirmed. The appellate panel relied on Washington v. Chrisman and State v. Bruzzese, which concluded that it was reasonable for police officers to follow arrestees into their homes. The panel reasoned that the same public safety concerns that arise during arrests also arise during investigatory stops. The panel therefore found that officers are permitted to follow detainees as well as arrestees into their homes.