Deputy U.S. Marshals executed an arrest warrant at the residence of Cooks, who was a known gang member. When no one answered their knock on the door, the Marshals entered by force. The house was empty. They returned the next day and place the home under surveillance. After observing cars come, they ordered one driver to stop and she ran in the house and locked the door. Two other women in the house said they couldn’t open the door because it was barricaded and locked from the inside and they had no key. Officer’s then heard a power drill from inside the house. One woman indicated that Cooks was armed and was doing something with a hole in the floor. They called a SWAT team who entered and arrested Cooks. After arresting Cooks the officers conducted a couple of sweeps found plywood covering a hole in the floor that wasn’t there the day before. They opened it and had a small team member crawl in and firearms were found. Cooks was charged with felon in possession or a firearm. Cooks challenged the opening and search of the crawlspace as impermissibly over-broad for a protective sweep and sought the exclusion of the firearms.
The 11th Circuit held that the “exigency umbrella” was applicable in this situation and applied the “emergency-aid” exigency to allow for the warrantless search of the crawl space. The officer found two people who were hostages in the barricaded house when they forced entry and it was reasonable to believe there could be hostages being held in the crawlspace.
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