Bryant was accused of murder. He had supplied the victim with drugs for years, and the shooting allegedly occurred at his home. The victim drove himself to a gas station about six blocks away, and there police, responding to a radio dispatch, found him lying on the ground, bleeding and in considerable pain. According to the court, "[t]he police asked him what had happened, who had shot him, and where the shooting had occurred." In response to questions, the victim told the officers that the defendant had shot him about 30 minutes before at the defendant’s house. The victim died several hours later.
Davis stated that “in the final analysis [it is] the declarant’s statements, not the interrogation’s questions, that the Confrontation Clause requires us to evaluate.” The declarant here (i.e., the victim) made these statements while he was surrounded by five police officers and knowing that emergency medical service (EMS) was on the way. Obviously, his primary purpose in making these statements to the police was not to enable the police to meet an ongoing emergency of the type identified by the United States Supreme Court, but was instead to tell the police who had committed the crime against him, where the crime had been committed, and where the police could find the criminal. That is, the primary purpose of the victim’s statements to the police was to “establish or prove past events potentially relevant to later criminal prosecution.”
The court also rejected the state's argument that there was an ongoing emergency because the police had to stop the assailant from hurting someone else; as the court pointed out, that would almost always be true when a suspect is at large. The court quotes Jeff Fisher approvingly to the effect that emergency must be narrowly construed lest "statements reporting criminal activity or accusing others of crimes . . . always be testimonial until a suspect was in custody and unable to cause further harm."
And the court refused to treat the fact of the victim's condition as creating an emergency for Confrontation Clause purposes; that, it said, would confuse "a medical emergency with the emergency circumstances of an ongoing criminal episode."
On the whole, this is an excellent decision, and I hope other courts follow it.