United States v. Cade

Decision Date13 October 2021
Docket Number1:21-cr-00223-1
CourtU.S. District Court — Northern District of Illinois


Defendant's request for an evidentiary hearing is denied. Defendant's motion to suppress evidence [26, 27] is denied.


Defendant is charged with knowingly possessing a firearm after previously being convicted of a felony. See 18 U.S.C §§ 922-924. Specifically, the indictment charges Defendant with possessing "a loaded Taurus G2C 9mm semi-automatic handgun, bearing serial number 488596391." Dkt. 1 at 1. Defendant was arrested on the night of September 6, 2020 by police officers who were wearing body cameras, with the following events recorded. The government submitted, and the Court has reviewed, the body camera footage from that evening.


Around 8:30pm that evening, Chicago police officers observed from their vehicle Defendant and an individual ("Individual 1") standing in the middle of West Monroe Street near Kildare Avenue. Defendant had a black bag over his shoulder. Defendant is not visible in the body camera footage until the officers turn on their emergency lights, pull over, and exit their vehicle. Ex. 1 at 2:00-3:00. Defendant and Individual 1 are in the street standing near a white sedan with headlights on. Id. No. one is in the driver or passenger seat of the sedan. Id. Individual I has a red, plastic Solo cup in her hand and Defendant does not have any bag over his shoulder. Id. The officer turns on the audio of his body camera, and can be heard asking Individual 1, "what is in the cup?" Id. Individual 1 tilts the cup to show the officer its contents, and the officer asks, "what is it?" Id. Individual 1 responds, "juice." Id. "That's juice?", the officer asks. "Yeah, with a little liquor in it," she replies. Id. The officer asks Individual 1 for a driver's license. As she reaches into the vehicle, the officer asks Defendant, "where did that little bag go?" The officer asks Individual 1 if the sedan belongs to her and she responds, "it's my grandmother's car"-a fact confirmed by the authorities sometime later. Id.

While Individual 1 sorts through some papers she pulled from the sedan's glove compartment, the officer points his flashlight into the backseat of the vehicle. From outside the vehicle, the officer observes a child seated in a car seat and a bottle of alcohol on the car floor in plain view. Id. at 3:00-4:00. The officer turns to Defendant and asks, "where'd that little bag go that you had, bro? You had something strapped around your shoulder." Id. "Nan, I aint got no bag," Defendant responds. Id. "You just had something strapped around your shoulder when we went this way," the officer replies. Id. Defendant again says, "I aint got no bag." Id. The officer turns back to Individual 1 and asks, "what's the bottle right here on the floor? What's that bottle, Don Julio?" Id. "Yeah," Individual 1 responds. Id.

Upon confirming the presence of an opened bottle of alcohol in the vehicle, the officer instructs Individual 1 to move to the back of the vehicle. Id. She complies, but says, "you can't search the car. I've got insurance on the car." Id. "You got open alcohol in the car. Yes, I can," the officer says as he opens the front driver's side door. Id. "Well, we not driving or nothing," Individual 1 responds. Id. The officer shines his flashlight on a black bag in the driver's seat of the vehicle. Id. The officer lifts open the side pouch of the bag and shines his flashlight inside. Id. He looks up and asks if either Individual 1 or Defendant have a license to carry a firearm. Id. at 4:00-5:00. They both say no. The officer then pulls a firearm out of the bag and cycles out several rounds of ammunition. Id. The officer identifies the bag as the one he had previously seen on Defendant only minutes earlier. Defendant was arrested. Defendant later admits that the firearm was his.


Defendant filed a motion to suppress arguing that the government lacked probable cause to (1) stop and detain Defendant, (2) search the black bag and the vehicle, and (3) arrest Defendant. Defendant also requested the Court conduct an evidentiary hearing on his motion. The government argues that (1) the officers' investigatory stop was justified because they had a reasonable suspicion that Defendant was drinking in a public way, obstructing traffic, and violating an ordinance purportedly banning the use of headlights on parked vehicles, (2) Defendant did not have an expectation of privacy in the vehicle or bag and the search of both was supported by probable cause, and (3) the officers had probable cause to arrest Defendant for possessing a firearm without a license. For the reasons below, the Court denies Defendant's motion to suppress.

A. Defendant has not shown that there are any disputed issues of material fact to justify holding an evidentiary hearing on his motion to suppress.

As a threshold matter, the Court denies Defendant's request to hold an evidentiary hearing on his motion. Defendant "bears the burden of establishing the necessity of a hearing." United States v. Rodriguez, 69 F.3d 136, 141 (7th Cir. 1995). "A defendant must present 'definite, specific, detailed, and nonconjectural' facts that justify relief before a district court will grant a suppression hearing. Additionally, these facts must be material, and they must be disputed." United States v. Randle. 966 F.2d 1209, 1212 (7th Cir. 1992); United States v. Curlin. 638 F.3d 562, 564 (7th Cir. 2011); United States v. McGaughy. 485 F.3d 965, 969 (7th Cir. 2007).

Defendant has not identified any material facts in dispute and the entire encounter between Defendant and the police was video recorded. Defendant did not submit any affidavit or other evidence. Nor does Defendant challenge the authenticity of the video recording. Defendant submitted only a motion signed by an attorney, which is not evidence. As a result, without any material factual issue in dispute, the Court declines to hold a suppression hearing and will rule on the motion to suppress based on the parties' briefing and the video footage submitted by the government.

B. After seeking voluntary cooperation through non-coercive questioning, the police officers had a reasonable suspicion that Defendant was engaged in unlawful activity, justifying an investigatory stop.

On a motion to suppress, a "defendant who seeks to suppress evidence bears the ultimate burden of proof and persuasion in making a prima facie showing of illegality." United States v. Barrera-Martinez. 274 F.Supp.2d 950, 955 (N.D. Ill. 2003); United States v. Zambrano. No. 1:20-CR-00049, 2021 WL 3709194, at *5 (N.D. Ill. Aug. 21, 2021) ("It is a well established rule that the burden is on the movant to make specific factual allegations of illegality, to produce evidence and persuade the court that the evidence should be suppressed.") (quoting United States v. Madison. 689 F.2d 1300, 1308 (7th Cir. 1982)).

Defendant complains that the officers had no probable cause to stop him at the outset. Dkt. 26 at 4. However, (1) the interaction between the officers and Defendant did not begin as an investigatory stop and (2) the standard necessary to justify an investigatory stop is a reasonable suspicion of unlawful activity, not the heavier standard of probable cause. Alabama v. White. 496 U.S. 325, 330 (1990) ("Reasonable suspicion is a less demanding standard than probable cause not only in the sense that reasonable suspicion can be established with information that is different in quantity or content than that required to establish probable cause, but also in the sense that reasonable suspicion can arise from information that is less reliable than that required to show probable cause."). In general, there are "three categories for police-citizen encounters in relation to the Fourth Amendment":

The first category is an arrest, for which the Fourth Amendment requires that police have probable cause to believe a person has committed or is committing a crime. The second category is an investigatory stop, which is limited to a brief, non-intrusive detention. This is also a Fourth Amendment "seizure," but the officer need only have specific and articulable facts sufficient to give rise to a reasonable suspicion that a person has committed or is committing a crime. The third category involves no restraint on the citizen's liberty, and is characterized by an officer seeking the citizen's voluntary cooperation through non-coercive questioning. This is not a seizure within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment.

United States v. Johnson. 910 F.2d 1506, 1508 (7th Cir. 1990) (cleaned up). For the third category, "the degree of suspicion that is required is zero." Id. (cleaned up); United States v. Goodwin. 449 F.3d 766, 770 (7th Cir. 2006) ("A stop as unintrusive as the one in Lidster, or as brief as when a police officer by approaching a person on the street (or at work, or on a bus) to ask him a question causes him to stop for at least the time needed to hear the question and answer (or refuse to answer) requires no suspicion to be lawful.") (cleaned up).

Here, the officers began their interaction with Defendant and Individual 1 in the third category, by exiting their vehicle and asking them non-coercive questions. Ex. 1 at 2:00. The officer asked Individual 1 what was in her red Solo cup, and she told him it was juice with liquor in it. Id. It was only after she informed the officer that she was drinking alcohol did the officers initiate a Terry stop, asking Defendant to move to the back of the vehicle and frisking him for weapons. Id.

Thus the operative question is whether the officers had a reasonable suspicion of...

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