Family of dirt biker killed in crash question D.C. officers’ warrantless search at victim’s home

WASHINGTON, D.C. - The family of Jeffrey Price has serious concerns after D.C. Police officers showed up at the home where he lived to search, but did not say why they were there.

Price's family member captured the search on video, which shows an officer looking in a car outside a home where he lived with his mother.

The officers proceed to a fenced-in backyard, clearly looking for something, but do not respond to the family repeatedly asking why they are there.

"It was very frustrating we couldn’t get them to communicate with us, if there was a situation where someone was in danger, all the kids that was outside, you think we would’ve had an opportunity to put the kids in the house for safety reasons," says Price's relative, who asked DCW50 to keep him anonymous. "It left us fearing for our lives because we’re thinking this is retaliation."

Back on May 4th, Price died after police say he crashed into a D.C. Police vehicle with his dirt bike, which is illegal to ride on city streets.

The family since retained a lawyer and have been vocal about their questions surrounding the crash. They spoke with witnesses who told them the officer purposefully pulled out in front of Price to stop him on his bike.

After sending police the video, a D.C. police spokesman told DCW50 that a man believed to possess a firearm fled from officers through that area and the firearm was potentially disposed of in that vicinity.

"Officers were conducting a search for that firearm. We will certainly address the officers failure to communicate to the residents," he said.

DCW50 asked Steve Webster, an attorney with Webster Book LLP, to weigh in on the video. He is not affiliated with the case.

He says police need a warrant to search a house and that can include the area around the house, especially if it's fenced in.

However, given the response from police, Webster says that could qualify as an exigent circumstance. If there is an emergency, public safety issue, or risk that the evidence could disappear quickly, police do not need a warrant.

"It depends on how close in terms of time the search was to the event," he says. "The longer the period of times elapses, the less the urgency or emergency is, and the more likely it is that they should go have to get a warrant."

Webster says he does question why the officers did not inform any of the bystanders why they were there, especially if they were looking for something.

"I find that odd," he says. "I wasn’t there, I can’t say, but having done this for quite some time, I find that a bit odd."

In a follow-up e-mail, a D.C. Police spokesman said, "If anyone's safety was in jeopardy, I believe our officers would have indicated such."

If there was no public safety concern, that once again raises the question of whether or not it was an exigent circumstance.

"The officers could have communicated with the bystanders and their supervisors will address the failure to communicate so there is not a similar incident in the future," said the spokesman.