U.S. attorneys say search of home was legal in Olsen case

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Olsen could face a total of 15 years in prison if convicted. He pleaded not guilty at his arraignment

A gavel and books sitting on a table.

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) — U.S. attorneys said Monday that a search in the threat case against a Boardman teen is legal because an attack could have been launched against officers serving the warrant and the evidence seized would have been discovered eventually.

Prosecutors responded to a motion to suppress filed Nov. 18 by attorneys for Justin Olsen, 18, of Boardman. He was indicted Aug. 21 on counts of interstate communication threat and threatening to assault a federal law enforcement officer.

Olsen could face a total of 15 years in prison if convicted. He pleaded not guilty at his arraignment.

Olsen was arrested Aug. 7 after police served a search warrant at the homes of his mother and father while investigating posts they said he made about mass shootings and shooting federal law enforcement officers.

At the home of his father, where Olsen was taken into custody, police found several thousand rounds of ammunition and several weapons.

The case has been assigned to Judge Solomon Oliver Jr. A hearing date has not been set yet.

In his suppression motion, J. Gerald Ingram, one of Olsen’s attorneys, said police serving the warrant overstepped his client’s Fourth Amendment rights against illegal search and seizure by using a “protective sweep,” to look for other suspects in the home, which is when the weapons were found.

Olsen’s father has said the weapons and ammunition were his because he is a competitive shooter and they were in a safe that only he has access to. A pistol was also found in plain view in a living room when the warrant was served.

In their response, U.S. attorneys wrote that the protective sweep was constitutional because previous court rulings have held that officers can make a sweep to ensure there is no one hiding that could attack them, even if they do not have probable cause or reasonable suspicion.

In this case, Olsen allowed police in the home and also provided them a code to enter the house.

Because they searched Olsen’s room, it was legal for the officers to sweep the rest of the second floor of the home to ensure there was no one else there who could attack them, the response said. The officers found the ammunition in the last room they searched, the room of Olsen’s father, and “law enforcement was shocked to see that amount of ammunition,” the response said.

The evidence should also be allowed even if the court rules the search to be unconstitutional because the government can prove they would have found the evidence through lawful means, the response said.

The response said that the warrant was already issued for the homes of Olsen’s parents and when officers arrived at his father’s house, he admitted making the statements and officers saw a large amount of ammunition before they began their protective sweep.

The response argues that any investigator would have asked for an additional warrant based on Olsen’s statements that he made the threats and the ammunition that was in plain view.

The response also noted that when Eric Olsen was contacted later and denied officers consent to search further, police waited while acquiring an additional search warrant.

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