494 U.S. 325 (1990), argued 4 Dec. 1989, decided 28 Feb. 1990 by vote of 7 to 2; White for the Court, Stevens and Kennedy concurring, Brennan and Marshall in dissent. In Buie the Supreme Court considered the level of justification required by the Fourth Amendment before police, while effecting the arrest of a suspect in his home pursuant to an arrest warrant, can conduct a warrantless “protective sweep” of those premises to protect the safety of police officers or others. The Court adopted a two-pronged approach. First, police may always search closets and spaces immediately adjoining the place of arrest from which an attack could be launched. Second, a sweep of other places where a person may be found may be made only under circumstances that would warrant a reasonably prudent officer in believing that the area to be searched harbors an individual posing a danger to arresting officers and others. In Wilson v. Arkansas (1995) the justices affirmed this rule by holding that police are ordinarily required to know and announce their presence before entering a house to execute a search warrant, but that there may be “reasonable” exceptions to the rule to account for a likelihood of violence or imminent destruction of evidence.
Wayne R. LaFave