A state appeals panel last month upheld the drug and weapon possession convictions of a Spring Valley man sentenced during 2006 to seven years as a repeat felony offender.
Horace Shackleford, now 27, will remain in Oneida Correctional Facility until December 2011 at the earliest.
The Appellate Division ruled acting State Supreme Court Justice Catherine Bartlett had wide discretion to determine the testimony of the Spring Valley police officers Frances Brooke and Joseph Brown was credibility, along with other evidence, to convict Shackleford of third-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance and third-degree criminal possession of a weapon.
Bartlett has not always looked favorably at Spring Valley police investigations in other cases, including those involving drug arrests and investigation into possible corruption.
“Contrary to the defendant’s contention, the record in this case amply supports the hearing court’s determination to credit police testimony, as well as the court’s factual findings that the vehicle in which the defendant was riding as a passenger was lawfully stopped for a traffic infraction,” the panel wrote in a decision released Dec. 3.
Following the car stop, Brown ended up patting down Shackleford and finding a bag inside his jacket. Brown felt the bag contained a heavy metal object. The officer testified that the object in the bag did not feel like a gun, “but you can’t determine what it feels like.”
The panel ruled the officers took reasonable action to remove Shackleford from the car and pat him down based on his hand movements and refusal to follow police directions.
The panel also ruled that since Brown could not rule out the possibility that the object was a weapon, he was justified in seizing the bag.
Brown and Brooke subsequently inspected the contents of the bag and found a metal scale and a large white rock substance that appeared to be crack cocaine. The officers’ search of the bag within the defendant’s grabbable reach was a proper safety precaution under the circumstances, the panel ruled.
Shackleford previously served 1 to 3 years in prison for a drug possession conviction in Ulster County, being released in 2005.