Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

State v. Walker

Court of Common Pleas of Delaware, New Castle

October 16, 2018

STATE OF DELAWARE,
v.
ORLANDO L. WALKER, Defendant

          Submitted: August 21, 2018

          Kristina Lehman, Esquire Deputy Attorney General Attorney for the State of Delaware

          James M. Stiller, Esquire Schwartz & Schwartz Attorney for Defendant

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER ON DEFENDANTS MOTION TO SUPPRESS

          Honorable Robert H. Surles Judge.

         The defendant, Orlando L. Walker (hereinafter the "Defendant"), brings this Motion to suppress evidence. Defendant was arrested and charged for Driving Under the Influence ("DUI") for which he now stands trial. Defendant is seeking the suppression of all evidence against him, claiming that the stop of his vehicle by the deputy fire chief of the Odessa Fire Company constituted an unlawful stop. The State opposes Defendant's request and alleges that the deputy fire chief of the Odessa Fire Company was acting as a private citizen and not as a state actor and therefore evidence, which is fruit of said stop, is admissible and not subject to the exclusionary rule.

         On August 21, 2018, a motion hearing was held and the issue of whether the deputy fire chief of the Odessa Fire Company is considered a state actor was presented to the Court.[1] Defendant's Motion to Suppress contained other issues which were presented to the Court at the motion hearing and the Court ruled as to those. Reserved for purposes of this Opinion was solely the issue of whether the deputy fire chief constituted a state actor. The Court took judicial notice of the fact that the Odessa Fire Company is not affiliated with the Office of the State Fire Marshal, thus rendering the deputy fire chief a volunteer firefighter, as requested by Defendant.[2] Trial is scheduled for November 13, 2018. This is the Final Decision and Order of the Court on Defendant's Motion to Suppress.

         FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         On March 24, 2018, Defendant was arrested for DUI, in violation of 21 Del. C. § 1477(a), Leaving the Scene of a Property Collision Accident, in violation of 21 Del. C. § 4201(a), Failure to Provide Information at Collision Scene Resulting in Property Damage, in violation of 21 Del. C. § 4201(b), Failure to Report a Collision Involving Alcohol or Drugs, in violation of 21 Del. C. § 4203(a), and Careless Driving, in violation of 21 Del. C. § 4176(a). These charges are the result of the following events.

         In the early morning hours of March 24, 2018, at approximately four-thirty a.m., Defendant allegedly struck a parked fire truck at the scene of a house-fire while Defendant was traveling north on Summit Bridge Road ("Route 301"). Keith Thomas Shoemaker, deputy fire chief of the Odessa Fire Company, was notified upon arrival to the house-fire that a red truck with a Pennsylvania license plate had struck the fire truck and fled north on Route 301. The deputy fire chief then attempted to locate Defendant by traveling north on Route 301. Upon locating a red truck with a Pennsylvania license plate meeting the description, the deputy fire chief pulled next to Defendant's vehicle and behind Defendant's vehicle in an attempt to gain Defendant's attention without success. It was at that time that the deputy fire chief activated his vehicle's emergency lights which prompted Defendant to pull over on the right shoulder of the road. The deputy fire chief pulled behind Defendant's vehicle driving a red Chevy Tahoe-like SUV marked with the fire company logo and announced via the vehicle's loudspeaker for Defendant to remain in his vehicle.

         Arresting officer, Corporal Saccomanno of the Delaware State Police Troop 9 ("Troop 9") responded to the scene followed by Corporal Hennon, also of Troop 9. It is unclear from the testimony of these officers what exactly the deputy fire chief was wearing at the time of the incident, but it is presumed that he was in uniform as he was on duty at the time in question. The deputy fire chief effectuated a stop of Defendant in his capacity as a volunteer firefighter with the Odessa Fire Company, as there are no allegations that the deputy fire chief represented himself as a police officer.

         PARTIES' CONTENTIONS

         Defendant argues that the deputy fire chief was a state actor and therefore, did not have authority to stop Defendant's vehicle.[3] Defendant requests that the Court adopt the similarities Defendant draws between the volunteer deputy fire chief in this case and a state fire marshal which has been recognized in Delaware to be a state actor. Defendant places emphasis in the deputy fire chiefs use of his emergency lights in making his argument that the stop constituted state action.

         The State argues that the volunteer deputy fire chief of the Odessa Fire Company, which is a non-profit organization not affiliated with the Office of the State Fire Marshal, is a private actor rather than a state actor. The State requests that the Court find that the deputy fire chief was a private actor, which would prevent the Fourth Amendment ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.