People v. Wilson, 84-0983

CourtUnited States Appellate Court of Illinois
Writing for the CourtPINCHAM; PINCHAM
Citation95 Ill.Dec. 848,490 N.E.2d 701,141 Ill.App.3d 156
Parties, 95 Ill.Dec. 848 The PEOPLE of the State of Illinois, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. Bruce WILSON, Defendant-Appellee.
Docket NumberNo. 84-0983,84-0983
Decision Date14 February 1986

Page 701

490 N.E.2d 701
141 Ill.App.3d 156, 95 Ill.Dec. 848
The PEOPLE of the State of Illinois, Plaintiff-Appellant,
Bruce WILSON, Defendant-Appellee.
No. 84-0983.
Appellate Court of Illinois,
First District, Fifth Division.
Feb. 14, 1986.

Page 702

[141 Ill.App.3d 157] [95 Ill.Dec. 849] Richard M. Daley, State's Atty. of Cook County (Michael E. Shabat, Peter D. Fischer and Graham C. Grady, Asst. State's Attys., of counsel), for plaintiff-appellant.

No brief for defendant-appellee.

[141 Ill.App.3d 158] MEJDA *, Justice:

The State appeals from an order of the circuit court suppressing evidence seized from defendant following a warrantless search. The State contends that the police had ample justification to stop and search defendant based on probable cause or reasonable suspicion. Defendant, as appellee, has not filed a brief, but this will not prevent resolution of the matter. First Capitol Mortgage Corp. v. Talandis Construction Corp. (1976), 63 Ill.2d 128, 345 N.E.2d 493.

Defendant was charged with possession of more than 500 grams of cannabis (Ill.Rev.Stat. 1983, ch. 56 1/2, par. 704(e) ) as a result of a warrantless street search conducted on the southside of Chicago on February 17, 1984. At the evidentiary hearing on defendant's motion to suppress, the arresting officer testified that defendant was stopped, and, as the officers exited their car with guns drawn, defendant dropped the duffel bag he was carrying and raised his hands. A pat-down search of his person was conducted and the contents of defendant's duffel bag examined. It was the latter search which disclosed the 13 large bundles of contraband.

The arresting officer explained that the police action was prompted by a radio message of a man with a gun walking northbound from the 5100 block of South Drexel Boulevard; the offender was described as wearing a gray hat, maroon and gray striped sweater, black pants and a black coat. The officer and his partner then proceeded toward the scene, which was a short distance away, and as they reached the corner of 49th Street and Drexel Boulevard, they saw defendant, who was the only person in the area walking, moving northbound on the 4800 block of Drexel carrying a duffel bag. When the defendant turned toward them, the police could see that his clothing matched the description contained in the message. The officers

Page 703

[95 Ill.Dec. 850] then approached defendant and stopped him.

The trial court concluded that the officers' actions were reasonable, but indicated that it could not find a legal basis for the search of the duffel bag. The court stated that defendant "no longer ha[d] possession of the bag."

The State now contends that a police officer may arrest a person when he has reasonable grounds to believe that the person is committing or has committed an offense. (Ill.Rev.Stat.1983, ch. 38, par. 107-2(c).) Under the totality of the circumstances the State maintains that the officers acted properly because probable cause was [141 Ill.App.3d 159] established by the facts and circumstances within the officer's knowledge which enables a person of reasonable caution to believe that an offense has been committed and that the person arrested has committed that offense. (People v. Lippert (1982), 89 Ill.2d 171, 178, 59 Ill.Dec. 819, 432 N.E.2d 605.) The State indicates that probable cause did exist under the circumstances presented based on the description of the offender which matched defendant and defendant's location in relation to the broadcast information. Alternatively, the State maintains that, even if probable cause did not exist, the police could conduct a reasonable search pursuant to Terry v. Ohio (1968), 392 U.S. 1, 88 S.Ct. 1868, 20 L.Ed.2d 889, because the specific and articulable facts available to the arresting officers would have warranted a person of reasonable caution to believe that prompt police action involving a limited search for weapons to protect their safety was necessary. The State maintains that under such circumstances the officer could also search any area within the person's immediate grasp and any item or container within the immediate area of the suspect in order to determine if it contained a weapon. The State contends that it would be impossible to ascertain whether the duffel bag contained a gun by merely touching the outside of the bag and that a search of the bag was therefore justified given the fact that the police had at least a reasonable suspicion that defendant was carrying a gun. Finally, the State asserts the proposition that defendant abandoned the bag and may therefore not contend that it was seized and searched improperly.

We dispense with the State's final argument by merely noting that in this case the defendant dropped a duffel bag as the police exited their squad car with drawn guns. It is clear that if in effect an abandonment did occur by the defendant such abandonment was prompted by the police action. If the police action was improper, the State may not rely upon the defendant's dropping the bag to justify the subsequent seizure and search of the bag. (See 1 LaFave, Search and Seizure § 2.6 at 373-74 (1978).) Further, under the circumstances we do not believe that defendant abandoned a reasonable expectation of privacy as to the contents of the duffel bag. See People v. Collins (1985), 106 Ill.2d 237, 87 Ill.Dec. 910, 478 N.E.2d 267.

We believe that probable cause for defendant's arrest existed, and that a search of defendant's person and property within his immediate reach in the duffel bag was proper. Here, the trial court accepted the arresting officer's testimony as truthful because it stated that he and his partner had acted reasonably under the circumstances. Clearly the officers were acting upon specific and articulable information[141 Ill.App.3d 160] received through a radio broadcast indicating that a man was carrying a gun. They saw the defendant in the area near the sight described in the occurrence, defendant matched the clothing description, and he was walking in the direction of the individual described in the broadcast. We concur in the trial court's conclusion that the police acted properly in stopping the defendant. The fact that they exited the vehicle with guns drawn is only a circumstance which indicates that the officers actually feared for their safety in approaching someone who might possibly be carrying a gun. In People v. McElroy (1976), 44 Ill.App.3d 1047, 3 Ill.Dec. 495, 358 N.E.2d 1180, police responded to a radio broadcast of a woman with a gun. After concluding

Page 704

[95 Ill.Dec. 851] that defendant was the more likely of two women on the street to have the weapon, police arrested her and then found the gun in her purse. This court held that the arrest and subsequent search of her purse disclosing the weapon were proper. The facts of McElroy closely resemble the facts of the present case. As such the police officers' search of the bag here was made incident to a lawful arrest, and defendant may not contend that the officers acted improperly.

Finally, even if probable cause did not exist to arrest defendant and search his bag, a limited search under Terry v. Ohio (1968), 392 U.S. 1, 88 S.Ct. 1868, 20 L.Ed.2d 889, to protect the police officer who has a reasonable suspicion that defendant may be carrying a dangerous weapon was proper. It would seem contrary to this tenet that the contents of a bag which the defendant was carrying and was within his immediate grasp could not be subject to a search if the officers could lawfully search the defendant's person. See 3 LaFave Search and Seizure, § 9-4 at 134 (1978) and 1985 Pocket Parts at 78-79.

We therefore believe that the police acted properly in searching the duffel bag which defendant had dropped to the ground upon the approach of the officers. To hold otherwise would subject these officers to the possible danger that upon...

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12 cases
  • People v. Robinson, 1-97-0629
    • United States
    • United States Appellate Court of Illinois
    • 30 Septiembre 1998
    ...prudent person to believe that the action taken was appropriate can constitute sufficient cause to stop or arrest. In People v. Wilson, 141 Ill.App.3d 156, 95 Ill.Dec. 848, 490 N.E.2d 701 (1986), police received a description of a man with a gun walking north wearing a gray hat, maroon and ......
  • People v. Qurash, 1-14-3412
    • United States
    • United States Appellate Court of Illinois
    • 16 Marzo 2017
    ...when defendant complied with the officers' order—and the fruits of that seizure should have been suppressed. See People v. Wilson , 141 Ill.App.3d 156, 159, 95 Ill.Dec. 848, 490 N.E.2d 701 (1986) ("If the police [seizure] was improper, the State may not rely upon the defendant's dropping th......
  • People v. Powell, 1-87-3896
    • United States
    • United States Appellate Court of Illinois
    • 27 Diciembre 1991
    ...108-1.01.) This search is not limited to the suspect's body but extends to items within his immediate grasp. (People v. Wilson (1986), 141 Ill.App.3d 156, 160, 95 Ill.Dec. 848, 490 N.E.2d 701.) In Wilson, the court upheld a search of the defendant's duffel bag, although he had dropped the b......
  • People v. Cleaves, 5-86-0799
    • United States
    • United States Appellate Court of Illinois
    • 13 Mayo 1988 necessary to discover weapons. ( Terry, 392 U.S. at 28-31, 20 L.Ed. at 910-911, 88 S.Ct. at 1883-1885.) In People v. Wilson (1986), 141 Ill.App.3d 156, 160, 95 Ill.Dec. 848, 851, 490 N.E.2d 701, 704, the court held that a police officer's search of defendant's duffel bag for weapons was ......
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