People v. Williams, 2016 IL App (1st) 132615 (August). Episode 219 (Duration 8:22)
Defendant was improperly seized as soon as police arrived on the scene, they had no reasonable suspicion.
Defendant said he parked his car and was walking to his cousin’s door when the police approached him and told him to “come over.”
The police said they defendant was parked in front of an abandoned building in a high-crime narcotics area and they wanted to verify what he was doing there.
Defendant says he was patted down, they took his money, and the detained him while the drug dog came out. Police said he consented to the search of his person and his car. Defendant said they detained him for about an hour.
The police said the whole thing from beginning to handcuffs (after the dog alerted and they pulled cocaine out of the car) took no longer than 6 minutes.
Defendant contends that he was immediately seized by the officers as soon as they arrived on the scene. Conversely, the State asserts that the encounter between defendant and the police was consensual and that defendant was not seized until he was handcuffed after the narcotics were recovered.
When the person is walking down the street, the appropriate test is whether a reasonable innocent person would feel free to leave under the circumstances.
Our supreme court adopted the following four factors identified by the Mendenhall court as indicative of a seizure:
(1) the threatening presence of several police officers,
(2) an officer’s display of a weapon,
(3) an officer’s physical touching of the person, and
(4) the use of language or tone of voice which indicates that compliance with the officer’s request may be compelled.
These factors illustrate the type of police conduct that would give a reasonable person an objective reason to believe that he was not free to leave or free to decline the officer’s requests.
However, these facts show that defendant was immediately seized by police as they arrived on the scene.
The cop’s own testimony was that as defendant began walking eastbound, the investigator exited his vehicle and said “[p]olice, can I talk to you?” The officer then walked to where defendant’s vehicle was parked. When defense counsel asked “did you tell him to come here to where you were at,” The investigator testified “[y]es.”
Additionally, when asked if defendant was “free to leave” at that time, the investigator expressly testified “[a]t that moment, no.”
Defendant also testified that the two officers inside the police vehicle asked him to “come here” and that he did not feel free to leave.
The investigator used language or tone of voice to compel defendant’s compliance with his requests, and, in doing so, conveyed to defendant that he was not free to leave or decline those requests.
Wanting to explore what defendant was doing in a high crime area does not point to specific and articulable facts that gave him reasonable suspicion that defendant was committing, was about to commit, or had committed a crime.
Defendant’s mere presence in the high-crime area, standing alone, was not sufficient to give the officers reasonable suspicion that he was engaged in criminal activity. The trial court in denying defendant’s motion to suppress.
These drugs should have been suppressed. Defendant’s conviction for possession with intent is reversed.