By Zoey Hou and Roselyn Poommai
SACRAMENTO, CA – Defendant Oran Coleman is charged with felony charges after allegedly “karate-kicking” and breaking a McDonald’s restaurant door, but in a preliminary hearing Wednesday in Sacramento County Superior Court the defense moved to suppress his statements to responding police officers.
The prosecution claims that at around 5 a.m. on Jan. 18, a McDonald’s employee was stocking supplies in the back of the fast-food restaurant when she heard a loud noise. She then checked the front of the restaurant to find broken glass but was unable to see what had happened.
Officers were told about a suspicious 20- to 30-year-old African American male, later identified as defendant Oran Delvon Coleman. He was wearing grey sweatpants and a dark shirt outside the restaurant.
Officer Mark Roddy confirmed from video footage that the suspect had run to the door and “karate chopped and kicked it” until it shattered. The male then landed on the door’s bar handle and stayed there for a minute. After speaking with a store co-owner, Officer Roddy determined that the door’s cost amounted to about $1,500.
On the scene, two responding officers immediately found Coleman pacing back and forth in front of the door. He faces a felony complaint charge of unlawful defacing with graffiti and damaging property exceeding $400.
Officer Ricardo Perez testified that he failed to Mirandize/read rights to the defendant, and noted he did not because the suspect was not in custody at the time and that their questions were “purely investigatory.”
This admittance led to questions from Assistant Public Defender Joanne Virata, who argued that her client’s statements during the interaction should not be admissible in court as he was not properly notified of his Miranda rights.
The PD asked, “Vandalism is a crime, correct? And you were provided with information on the suspect. And the suspect information was given to you as it was related to the vandalism, correct?”
Officer Perez confirmed that he was looking for a Black male adult who matched the description. He also verified with the public defender that he did not tell the suspect that they were under arrest, nor did he Mirandize them.
PD Virata alleged that “if [the defendant] was approached by two officers that were in full uniform, who were given the information that led them to believe that he was the sole suspect in the case, along with a series of questions asked to him, it would be fair for anyone in that position that they were not free to leave and that they were actually in custody.”
The PD insisted the fact that two officers seeking one specific man and further interrogating him should be considered an instance of custody.
Virata continued to assert that any admissions made by defendant Coleman should not be held against him due to the officers’ failure to Mirandize him. She further argued that any question made to the suspect should have been subject to Miranda.
Law Clerk Chris Cantrell, a legal intern under Deputy District Attorney Rochelle Beardsley, countered that the number of officers present at the interrogation is unimportant and does not automatically put the suspect in custody. He also added that just because officers are on the premise does not necessarily imply arrest.
He explained, “The question of two officers versus one is irrelevant, and there were two officers in the McDonald’s interviewing other people. [The defendant] was not under arrest—he was not detained and Mirandized.”
Though PD Virata insisted that the nature of the interaction seemed like detention, Judge Kara K. Ueda ultimately denied the defense’s motion to suppress Coleman’s admissions. She determined that the initial exchange between the defendant and responding officers was voluntary rather than custodial.
“It appeared on the given testimony that the two officers initially approached for the purposes of the investigation,” Judge Ueda ruled.
Judge Ueda concluded the preliminary hearing, denying the defense’s motion to suppress Coleman’s statements, and said, based on the evidence given in the testimonies, there is probable cause to hold the defendant to answer. If found competent, the defendant faces the possibility of additional preliminary hearings.
Matters for Oran Coleman will resume on June 21.
Zoey Hou is a Bay Area native pursuing English and International Relations at UC Davis. She strongly advocates for criminal justice transparency and institutional change.
Roselyn is a second-year undergraduate double-majoring in Psychological Science and Criminology, Law and Society at the University of California, Irvine. A native of Los Angeles, California, she is passionate about the role of human behavior in the criminal justice system.
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