State v. Dial, 228 N.C. App. 83 (Jun. 18, 2013)

The trial court did not err by denying the defendant’s motion to suppress evidence discovered as a result of a protective sweep of his residence where the officers had a reasonable belief based on specific and articulable facts that the residence harbored an individual who posed a danger to the officers’ safety. Officers were at the defendant’s residence to serve an order for arrest. Although the defendant previously had answered his door promptly, this time he did not respond after an officer knocked and announced his presence for 10-15 minutes. The officer heard shuffling on the other side of the front door. When two other officers arrived, the first officer briefed them on the situation, showed them the order for arrest, and explained his belief that weapons were inside. When the deputies again approached the residence, “the front door flew open,” the defendant exited and walked down the front steps with his hands raised, failing to comply with the officers’ instructions. As soon as the first officer reached the defendant, the other officers entered the home and performed a protective sweep, lasting about 30 seconds. Evidence supporting the protective sweep included that the officers viewed the open door to the residence as a “fatal funnel” that could provide someone inside with a clear shot at the officers, the defendant’s unusually long response time and resistance, the known potential threat of weapons inside the residence, shuffling noises that could have indicated more than one person inside the residence, the defendant’s alarming exit from the residence, and the defendant’s own actions that led him to be arrested in the open doorway.

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