PEOPLE v. WALKER

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Supreme Court, Appellate Division, Fourth Department, New York.

PEOPLE of the State of New York, Plaintiff-Respondent, v. Alfred WALKER, Defendant-Appellant.

Decided: December 30, 1999

PRESENT:  PINE, J.P., HAYES, WISNER, PIGOTT, JR., and SCUDDER, JJ. Kristin M. Preve, Buffalo, for defendant-appellant. Paul J. Williams, III, Orchard Park, for plaintiff-respondent.

Defendant was convicted upon a plea of guilty of criminal possession of a weapon in the third degree (Penal Law § 265.02[4] ), criminal possession of a controlled substance in the seventh degree (Penal Law § 220.03) and two counts of criminally using drug paraphernalia in the second degree (Penal Law § 220.50[2], [3] ).  Defendant and his girlfriend were wrestling on top of their cars when the police arrived at the scene.   The front tires of defendant's car had been slashed by the girlfriend, and the windows of the girlfriend's car had been broken by defendant.   Each was arrested for damaging the other's car, and both cars were impounded.   The girlfriend's car was illegally double parked;  defendant's car was legally parked at the curb of a residential street approximately 30 yards from defendant's temporary residence.   The evidence forming the basis for the charges was discovered in defendant's vehicle after an inventory search.

 We reject defendant's contention that the inventory search was unconstitutional and unreasonable.   Contrary to defendant's contention, the police were not required to explore alternatives to impoundment (see, Colorado v. Bertine, 479 U.S. 367, 373-374, 107 S.Ct. 738, 93 L.Ed.2d 739).  Where, as here, the inventory search is conducted according to standard departmental procedure that conforms to constitutional dictates concerning reasonableness, the search will be upheld (see, People v. Galak, 80 N.Y.2d 715, 718-719, 594 N.Y.S.2d 689, 610 N.E.2d 362;  People v. Gonzalez, 62 N.Y.2d 386, 389-390, 477 N.Y.S.2d 103, 465 N.E.2d 823).  “The law is well settled that the police may search an impounded vehicle to inventory its contents for the purposes, inter alia, of protecting the individual's property and protecting the police from false claims for missing property” (People v. Gallego, 155 A.D.2d 687, 689, 548 N.Y.S.2d 62, lv. denied 75 N.Y.2d 919, 555 N.Y.S.2d 37, 554 N.E.2d 74).  “Having arrested the defendant on a public street, the officers were thereafter entitled to impound the vehicle” (People v. Gallego, supra, at 689, 548 N.Y.S.2d 62, citing People v. Butler, 44 A.D.2d 423, 429, 355 N.Y.S.2d 172, affd. 36 N.Y.2d 990, 374 N.Y.S.2d 604, 337 N.E.2d 120).  Defendant's further contention that the search was invalid because the inventory report did not list each item in the car is without merit (see, People v. Salazar, 225 A.D.2d 804, 805, 640 N.Y.S.2d 167, lv. denied 88 N.Y.2d 969, 647 N.Y.S.2d 723, 670 N.E.2d 1355).

Judgment unanimously affirmed.

MEMORANDUM: