from the Vanderburgh Circuit Court, No. 82C01-1412-F2-5337
The Honorable Kelli E. Fink, Magistrate
Petition to Transfer from the Indiana Court of Appeals, No.
Attorney for Appellant Matthew J. McGovern Anderson, Indiana
Attorneys for Appellee Curtis T. Hill, Jr. Attorney General
of Indiana James B. Martin Monika Prekopa Talbot Deputy
Attorneys General Indianapolis, Indiana
police executed a search warrant at Mario Watkins's home
with a flash-bang grenade, battering ram, and a dozen heavily
armed SWAT officers. Once inside, they found cocaine,
marijuana, and a gun. Watkins argues that the intrusive entry
violated the Indiana Constitution and that the search warrant
was unsupported by probable cause under the Federal
state constitutional analysis, we apply our well-established
Litchfield test and hold that Evansville police did
not act unreasonably under the totality of the circumstances.
And for the federal analysis, we uphold the search warrant
because its supporting affidavit shows a substantial basis
for finding probable cause. We therefore affirm the trial
and Procedural History
long-time confidential informant saw Mario Watkins in his
Evansville home with a gun, cocaine, and marijuana. After
receiving this tip, Evansville police got a search warrant,
surveilled the house, and decided to send in the SWAT team.
The team met to plan the warrant execution, taking into
account the layout of the house, Watkins's violent
criminal history, and the danger posed by four adults with
narcotics and a gun.
after, twelve SWAT officers arrived at Watkins's house in
an armored vehicle. One officer bashed in the front door with
a battering ram while another announced the team's
presence over a loudspeaker. A third officer's job was to
use a flash-bang grenade-a diversionary device that emits a
loud noise and bright flash of light-to distract anyone
inside. Following standard safety precautions, he did a
"quick peek" into the front room to see whether the
grenade was appropriate, then deployed it six inches inside
the door. He did not know that a nine-month-old boy
was lying under a blanket in a playpen in that room.
discovered the child moments after the grenade went off, and
took him outside. They then found four adults-including
Watkins-in the rest of the house. When they arrested Watkins,
he told them that everything in the house was his.
the house, officers found a plate with crack cocaine residue,
digital scales, 4.2 grams of crack cocaine, 706 grams of
marijuana, 35 hydrocodone pills, 21 alprazolam pills, 25
oxycodone pills, $263 in cash, and a .40 caliber Hi-Point
State charged Watkins with multiple felonies. He filed a
motion to suppress, arguing that the search warrant was
unsupported by probable cause under the Fourth Amendment and
that its execution violated the search-and-seizure
protections of the Fourth Amendment and Article 1, Section 11
of the Indiana Constitution. The trial court denied the
trial court then severed the unlawful possession of a firearm
charge, and the remaining counts went to trial. The jury
deadlocked on a neglect of a dependent charge, but found
Watkins guilty of possession of a schedule II controlled
substance as a lesser-included Class A misdemeanor,
possession of cocaine as a Level 6 felony, possession of a
schedule IV controlled substance as a lesser-included Class A
misdemeanor, possession of marijuana as a lesser-included
Class B misdemeanor, and maintaining a common nuisance as a
Level 6 felony.
appealed, arguing that the search warrant affidavit did not
establish probable cause in violation of the Fourth Amendment
and that the search warrant execution was unreasonable under
Article 1, Section 11 of the Indiana Constitution. A split
panel of the Court of Appeals reversed. The majority found
the search unreasonable under Article 1, Section 11's
Litchfield test because "the extent of law
enforcement needs for a military-style assault was low and
the degree of intrusion was unreasonably high."
Watkins v. State, 67 N.E.3d 1092, 1102 (Ind.Ct.App.
2017). Judge May dissented, as she would have found the
search reasonable under the totality of the circumstances.
Id. at 1102 (May, J., dissenting).
State petitioned for transfer, which we granted-thus vacating
the Court of Appeals opinion. Ind. Appellate Rule 58(A).
challenges the constitutionality of the warrant execution
only under Article 1, Section 11 of the Indiana
Constitution-an issue that we review de novo. Z ...