Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County No. 98 JD 14210 The Honorable Carol Kelly, Judge Presiding.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Presiding Justice Cousins
F.J. was charged by petition with unlawful possession of a weapon. He moved to quash arrest and suppress evidence, arguing that the police stopped and searched him without a reasonable basis for suspicion. After a hearing, the trial court denied the motion. The court then adjudicated F.J. delinquent and sentenced him to 18 months' probation with various conditions.
F.J. now appeals, arguing that the trial court erred in denying his motion to quash arrest and suppress evidence.
The only witness at the suppression hearing was Officer Ferguson, who made the arrest. Ferguson testified that around 10 p.m. on December 18, 1998, he and his partner were on patrol in the area of 1150 South Richmond. According to Officer Ferguson, this is a high crime area with much narcotics activity and there had been a gang disturbance reported in the area a couple minutes previously.
Ferguson saw F.J. standing at the entrance of an alley and decided to conduct a field interview. As he got out of his car, Ferguson saw F.J. glance at him and put an object in his pocket. Ferguson did not know what the object was. Since he did not know whether the object was a weapon, Ferguson performed a pat-down search on F.J. without his consent. He felt a handgun in F.J.'s pocket, removed it, and then placed F.J. in custody.
The court found Ferguson's testimony credible and denied the motion. The parties stipulated to Ferguson's testimony at trial, and the judge found F.J. delinquent. She sentenced him to 18 months' probation with various conditions.
F.J. appeals, arguing that the trial court erred in ruling that the stop and the search were proper.
Officer Ferguson stopped and frisked F.J. Whether the stop was justified and whether the frisk was justified are two distinct inquiries. People v. Galvin, 127 Ill. 2d 153, 163, 535 N.E.2d 837, 841-42 (1989). The fact that a police officer has reason to stop an individual does not necessarily mean that the additional intrusion of a search for weapons will also be warranted. People v. Pence, 225 Ill. App. 3d 1061, 1063, 588 N.E.2d 1245, 1246 (1992). A police officer may conduct an investigatory stop when "the officer reasonably infers from the circumstances that the person is committing, is about to commit, or has committed" a criminal offense. 725 ILCS 5/107-14 (West 1996). Under Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1, 21, 20 L. Ed. 2d 889, 906, 88 S. Ct. 1868, 1880 (1968), the officer must "be able to point to specific and articulable facts which, taken together with rational inferences from those facts, reasonably warrant that intrusion." The Illinois Code of Criminal Procedure of 1963(the Code) provides that a police officer may go on to make a search when the officer "reasonably suspects that he or another is in danger of attack." 725 ILCS 5/108-1.01 (West 1996); Terry, 392 U.S. at 27, 20 L. Ed. 2d at 909, 88 S. Ct. at 1883. We will first turn our attention to the question of the stop.
Traditionally, Illinois courts have held simply that a trial court's finding in a suppression hearing was subject to reversal only for manifest error. Galvin, 127 Ill. 2d at 164, 535 N.E.2d at 842. More recently, however, the Illinois Supreme Court has adopted a two-step approach under which the factual findings and credibility determinations of the trial court are reviewed for manifest error and then the reviewing court applies a de novo standard to the legal determination of whether suppression of the evidence is warranted under those facts. People v. Mabry, 304 Ill. App. 3d 61, 64, 710 N.E.2d 454, 456 (1999); People v. Gonzalez, 184 Ill. 2d 402, 411-12, 704 N.E.2d 375, 380 (1998). This is also the approach that has been adopted by the United States Supreme Court:
"We therefore hold that as a general matter determinations of reasonable suspicion and probable cause should be reviewed de novo on appeal. Having said this, we hasten to point out that a reviewing court should take care both to review findings of historical fact only for clear error and to give due weight to inferences drawn from those facts by resident judges and local law enforcement ...