Niagara Gazette

Courts

June 23, 2014

Judge rules detectives acted properly in stopping wheelchair-bound suspect

Niagara Gazette — LOCKPORT — A Niagara County Court judge has ruled that Falls police narcotics detectives had the right to stop a wheelchair-bound drug dealer, and seize the crack cocaine he had on his lap.

Judge Sara Shledon Farkas also ruled last week, that the gun that detectives said Frank Murphy tried to get rid of can also be used as evidence at his trial.

Murphy had challenged the stop by the cops and the seizure of the gun and drugs.

Detectives Jay Reynolds and Joe Giaquinto had testified at a hearing that they were investigating complaints called into a public tip line of a “man in a wheelchair selling drugs in the 500 block of Ferry Avenue.” 

“We had gotten a ton of complaints about this guy,” Falls Police Narcotics Division Capt. Dave LeGault said. “The neighbors claimed he was selling crack from his wheelchair.”

When Reynolds and Giaquinto went to investigate the complaints last August, they said they spotted a man in a wheelchair who matched the suspect description that had been left on the tip line.

When the investigators approached him, the man in the wheelchair, who later identified as Murphy, began to, in the words of the detectives, “Roll away.” As Murphy began to flee, Reynolds testified that he saw him toss an object from his lap.

When Reynolds walked over to the object, he was that it was a pistol.

At the same time, Giaquinto chased Murphy and grabbed ahold of his wheelchair to stop him. When the detective stepped in front of Murphy, he saw a large plastic baggie on his lap.

Inside the baggie was a significant quantity of white rocks that field-tested positive for cocaine. 

Murphy, 28, 1101 Walnut Ave., Apt. 2, was charged with third- and fifth-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance and second-degree criminal possession of a weapon. 

“Timing is everything in this case,” Farkas said. “Murphy fitted, exactly, the person in the tip calls, multiple tip calls. This was an appropriate stop.”

As a result of that, Farkas said the “fruits of the stop”, the gun and the crack cocaine, can be used by prosecutors as evidence at Murphy’s trial.

Jury selection in that trial is set for July 14.

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