Tipsters more reliable

when they provide self-incriminating details

Tipsters more reliable when they provide self-incriminating details

Comm. v. Butler, 2018 PA Super 219 (Aug. 1, 2018)

Out of Bucks County.  Butler was convicted of drug-related offenses, namely possession with intent to deliver (PWID).  He raised a single issue on appeal: whether the police had reasonable suspicion to conduct an investigative detention?  The Superior Court, like the trial court, held that there was reasonable suspicion.

Essentially, the facts were these. The investigative officer received a phone call from a guy by the name of Gary Bulicki, who the officer didn’t know personally but knew that Bulicki was “in the police department ‘system.’”  Bulicki tells the officer that he was going to be driving his son to a particular Walmart to purchase heroin from two black males, known as “Pops” and “Old Head,” and these black males would be in a black Tahoe. Bulicki had indicated that he had taken his son on drug runs before, told him he received these particular details from his son, and provided a description of what his son would be wearing.

The police conducted surveillance of the area where the drug-buy was to occur.  Lo and behold: the police corroborate the details of Bulicki’s call.  They, therefore, stop the car, conduct a search, and find contraband.

On appeal, Butler argued the stop was bad because Bulicki was not a reliable source.  The Superior Court had this to say:

Reasonable suspicion existed in this case based on the information Bulicki, an identified informant, relayed to police, which information police corroborated before conducting the vehicle stop.  Furthermore, Bulicki’s statements to police tended to implicate him in a scheme to purchase heroin, itself a crime.  A self-incriminating tip from a known person is more reliable because the risk inherent in making such a statement.  Bulicki’s tip had sufficient indicia of reliability to justify the police to stop the Tahoe.