New York Daily News

April 10, 2004

Judge hurls cops a spit wad

By Robert Gearty

A city judge has spat out key evidence cops obtained from the mouth of a drug suspect.

The decision was good news for Kenneth Moore, who is charged with misdemeanor criminal possession of a controlled substance, but was decried by the police union.

Cops said they saw Moore put his hand to his mouth in a drug-prone Harlem parking lot on Aug. 27 and told him, "Spit it out." Moore complied, and out popped a pea-sized piece of crack cocaine, police said.

Manhattan Criminal Court Judge Karen Smith ruled the crack inadmissible because it had been seized illegally. The ruling was reported yesterday in the New York Law Journal.

At a hearing, Officer Frank Papa acknowledged that Moore wasn't doing anything suspicious before Papa saw Moore put his hand to his mouth.

The judge declared, "It cannot be said that under any view of the facts known to Officer Papa there was any basis for establishing reasonable suspicion in this case."

"Police officers' job in fighting drugs is tough enough," said Patrolmen's Benevolent Association President Patrick Lynch. "A decision like this certainly doesn't help."