The Supreme Judicial Court ruled today a gun allegedly tossed over a fence by a man being chased by police can be used against him.
At issue was when Messiah Franklin felt he was under police orders to stop and submit to officers after a carful of cops noticed him and another guy hanging out on Harmon Street in Mattapan on the evening of Nov. 18, 2006.
A lower-court judge had thrown out the gun evidence as illegal, ruling the police "seizure" started as soon as the officers got out of their Crown Victoria and that simply hanging out is not in itself suspicious, even if Franklin had started "looking around" when the cops pulled up.
But the state's highest court rejected that argument, saying the "seizure" did not happen until after Franklin had given officers plenty of reason to suspect he was up to no good - and that at no time did the officers even yell "stop:" As he ran, Franklin clutched his waist as if he had a gun there. When he found himself dead-ended by a six-foot-high stockade fence, Franklin tossed something over the top, which the officers heard land on the other side with "a metallic sound." Then Franklin began to try to climb the fence.
Therefore, the court concluded, the gun can be used as evidence against Franklin.